[MARMAM] New publication: Topographic drivers of predator hotspots

Phil Bouchet 20878483 at student.uwa.edu.au
Thu Aug 21 22:06:24 PDT 2014

Dear all,

On behalf of the authors, I am pleased to announce the early view publication of the following article in Biological Reviews:

Phil J. Bouchet, Jessica J. Meeuwig, Chandra P. Salgado Kent, Tom B. Letessier and Curt K. Jenner (2014). 
Topographic determinants of mobile vertebrate predator hotspots: current knowledge and future directions.

Although not focused specifically on marine mammals, the article describes several examples from this taxon and should be of direct relevance to both the marine mammal and the broader marine ecology communities.


Despite being identified as a driver of mobile predator aggregations (hotspots) in both marine and terrestrial environments, topographic complexity has long remained a challenging concept for scientists to visualise and a difficult parameter to estimate. It is only with the advent of high-speed computers and the recent popularisation of geographical information systems (GIS) that terrain attributes have begun to be quantitatively measured in three-dimensional space and related to wildlife dynamics, making the well-established field of geomorphometry (or ‘digital terrain modelling’) a discipline of growing appeal to biologists. Although a diverse array of numerical metrics is now available to describe the shape, geometry and physical properties of natural habitats, few of these are known to, or adequately used by, ecologists. In this review, we examine the nature and usage of 56 geomorphometrics extracted from the ecological modelling literature over a period of 32 years (1979–2011). We show that, in studies of mobile predators, numerous topographic variables have largely been overlooked in favour of single basic metrics that do not, on their own, fully capture the complexity of continuous landscapes. Based on a simulation approach, we assess the redundancy and correlation structure of these metrics and demonstrate that a majority are highly collinear. We highlight a suite of 7–8 complementary metrics which best explain topographic patterns across a bathymetric grid of the west Australian seafloor, and contend that field and analytical protocols should prioritise variables of these types, particularly when the responses of predator populations to physical habitat features are of interest. We suggest that prominent structures such as canyons, seamounts or mountain chains can serve as useful proxies for predator hotspots, especially in remote locations where access to high-resolution biological data is often limited.

The article is available at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/brv.12130/abstract

Please direct any queries to the first author - philippe.bouchet at research.uwa.edu.au

Best regards,
Phil Bouchet

PhD candidate
Centre for Marine Futures - Oceans Institute
The University of Western Australia (M470), 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia
Tel: +61 (8) 6488 8118 | Mob: +61 (0) 406 811 113
Web: philbouchet.com 

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