A new study investigating the habitat use patterns of dugongs illustrates the potential benefits of satellite tracking and dynamic habitat use modeling to inform effective management measures of elusive and nonstationary marine mammals.
The study,’Ecoregional and temporal dynamics of dugong habitat use in a complex coral reef lagoon ecosystem’ by Derville et al, seeks to model the spatio-temporal habitat use dynamics of 16 satellite-tagged dugongs in the coral reef lagoonal ecosystems of New Caledonia, South Pacific.
Differences in dugong spatial intensity of use were identified in three contrasting ecoregions: shallow waters, deeper lagoon waters and the fore-reef shelf outside the barrier reef. Maps of dugong intensity of use were predicted and validated with estimates derived from aerial surveys.
The results extended the spatial patterns of dugong distribution obtained from the aerial surveys, particularly in the shallow waters preferentially used by dugongs at night/dusk during high tide.
The report is co-authored by Dr. Christophe Cleguer, a marine ecologist at James Cook University in Queensland, Australia, and a technical advisor to the Seagrass Ecosystem Services Project.
The full article is available here
Derville, S. et. al (2022) Ecoregional and temporal dynamics of dugong habitat use in a complex coral reef lagoon ecosystem. Sci Rep 12, 552.