[MARMAM] New publication on grey seals using acoustic tags to locate fish

Amanda Stansbury as252 at st-andrews.ac.uk
Wed Nov 19 09:14:21 PST 2014

We are pleased to announce the online publication of our most recent paper:

"Grey seals use anthropogenic signals from acoustic tags to locate fish:
evidence from a simulated foraging task" by Amanda L Stansbury, Thomas
Gotz, Volker B. Deecke, and Vincent M. Janik in Proceedings of the Royal
Society B.

The paper is freely available open access from:

ABSTRACT: Anthropogenic noise can have negative effects on animal behaviour
and physiology. However, noise is often introduced systematically and
provides information for navigation or prey detection. Here, we show that
grey seals (Halichoerus grypus) learn to use sounds from acoustic fish tags
as an indicator of food location. In 20 randomized trials each, 10 grey
seals individually explored 20 foraging boxes, with one box containing a
tagged fish, one containing an untagged fish and all other boxes being
empty. The tagged box was found after significantly fewer non-tag box
visits across trials, and seals revisited boxes containing the tag more
often than any other box. The time and number of boxes needed to find both
fish decreased significantly throughout consecutive trials. Two additional
controls were conducted to investigate the role of the acoustic signal: (i)
tags were placed in one box, with no fish present in any boxes and (ii)
additional pieces of fish, inaccessible to the seal, were placed in the
previously empty 18 boxes, making possible alternative chemosensory cues
less reliable. During these controls, the acoustically tagged box was
generally found significantly faster than the control box. Our results show
that animals learn to use information provided by anthropogenic signals to
enhance foraging success.


Amanda Stansbury
PhD Candidate

Sea Mammal Research Unit
Scottish Oceans Institute
University of St. Andrews
East Sands
KY16 9LB
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