Movements and activity of male and female dogfish in a tidal sea lough: alternative behavioural strategies and apparent sexual segregation
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Movements and habitat selection of male and female dogfish, Scyliorhinus canicula, in a tidal sea lough in south-west Ireland were determined over two temporal scales. Continuous acoustic tracking of four individuals (two males, two females) for 6 days was used to monitor fine-scale changes in behaviour patterns and extent of home ranges. Mark-recapture by number-tagging dogfish captured at sampling stations during August-September in consecutive years was used to reveal long-term philopatric behaviour. Transmitter-tagged male dogfish showed very similar behavioural patterns of low activity during the day in deep water (12–24 m depth) followed by more rapid movements into shallow areas (<4 m) at dusk to feed, before returning to the core space in deep water at dawn. Home ranges occupied by males overlapped almost entirely and were centred in an area where tidal currents form gyres and large crab prey are found. Female S. canicula exhibited a different behavioural strategy. They refuged in caves in shallow water (0.5–1.5 m) during the day and during the 6-day tracking period were nocturnally active two or three times, primarily in deep water. Activity areas of females did not overlap with those of males. Acoustic telemetry, netting, underwater surveys and tag returns revealed males and females were apparently segregated by sex in the lough. Mark-recapture data showed males and females were recaptured from the locations where they were originally caught between 359 and 371 days earlier suggesting at least seasonal segregation in consecutive years. Because female dogfish store sperm enabling temporal separation of the energetically demanding act of copulation with the process of egg-laying, we suggest that this apparent spatial segregation by sex could be driven by the need for females to conserve energy by limiting multiple matings during a time when mating coincides with a peak in egg production and laying.
KeywordsDeep Water Home Range Behavioural Strategy Multiple Mating Spatial Segregation
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