Emily E. Hardin, Joshua A. Cullen, Mariana M. P. B. Fuentes

Comparing acoustic and satellite telemetry: an analysis quantifying the space use of Chelonia mydas in Bimini, Bahamas

  • Multidisciplinary

Passive acoustic and Argos satellite telemetry are common methods for tracking marine species and are often used similarly to quantify space use. However, data-driven comparisons of these methods and their associated ecological inferences are limited. To address this, we compared temporal durations, spatial resolutions, financial costs and estimates of occurrence and range distributions for each tracking approach using nine juvenile green turtles ( Chelonia mydas ) in Bimini, Bahamas. Tracking durations were similar, although acoustic tracking provided higher spatiotemporal resolution than satellite tracking. Occurrence distributions (95%) estimated from satellite telemetry were 12 times larger than those from acoustic telemetry, while satellite range distributions (95%) were 89 times larger. While individuals generally remained within the extent of the acoustic receiver array, gaps in coverage were identified. These gaps, combined with the lower accuracy of satellite telemetry, were likely drivers for the larger satellite distributions. Costs differed between telemetry methods, with acoustic telemetry being less expensive at larger sample sizes with a previously established array. Our results suggest that acoustic and satellite telemetry may not provide similar inferences of individual space use. As such, we provide recommendations to identify telemetry methods appropriate for specific study objectives and provide discussion on the biases of each.

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