Population Ecology

, Volume 46, Issue 1, pp 39–53 | Cite as

Analysis of foraging movements of Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus): individuals switch between two modes of search behaviour

  • Nathaniel K. NewlandsEmail author
  • Molly E. Lutcavage
  • Tony J. Pitcher
Original Article


We investigate the application of quantitative techniques for distinguishing adaptive search behaviour in Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus). The analysis demonstrates the application of a novel spectral analysis technique for resolving and measuring periodicity in animal behaviour patterns. Two different search strategies are identified that include regulation of turning (klinokinesis) and speed (orthokinesis). Our results provide evidence that bluefin tuna attempt to optimize their searching efficiency through adjustments in the duration and timing of switching between these two searching strategies. Repetitive, diurnal deep dives were also found to coincide with switching of search behaviour. Additional tracking experiments with larger sample sizes are needed to better identify how individuals switch between the two search strategies and how such decisions may collectively improve the searching and foraging efficiency of their schools (synchrokinesis, social taxis) in response to changes in the size or composition of prey aggregations.


Klinokinesis Non-stationary Orthokinesis Search behaviour Spectral method 



This work was funded by the Office of Naval Research, Grant No. 0014-99-1-1-1035 to M.E. Lutcavage and S. Kraus, the National Satellite Information Distribution Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NA 06 FM 0460, M.E. Lutcavage), and a research fellowship from the University of British Columbia (UBC), Vancouver, Canada awarded to N.K. Newlands. This work was funded by NSERC, Canada Grant awarded to Prof. L. Edelstein-Keshet (Dept. of Mathematics, UBC). We thank Dr. Leonardo Huato and Prof. Leah Edelstein-Keshet for their helpful comments. We also thank the anonymous reviewers for their comments that improved this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© The Society of Population Ecology and Springer-Verlag Tokyo 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nathaniel K. Newlands
    • 1
    Email author
  • Molly E. Lutcavage
    • 2
  • Tony J. Pitcher
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of MathematicsUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Department of ZoologyUniversity of New HampshireDurhamUSA
  3. 3.Fisheries CentreUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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