Acoustic telemetry and network analysis reveal the space use of multiple reef predators and enhance marine protected area design

Proc Biol Sci. 2016 Jul 13;283(1834):20160717. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2016.0717.


Marine protected areas (MPAs) are commonly employed to protect ecosystems from threats like overfishing. Ideally, MPA design should incorporate movement data from multiple target species to ensure sufficient habitat is protected. We used long-term acoustic telemetry and network analysis to determine the fine-scale space use of five shark and one turtle species at a remote atoll in the Seychelles, Indian Ocean, and evaluate the efficacy of a proposed MPA. Results revealed strong, species-specific habitat use in both sharks and turtles, with corresponding variation in MPA use. Defining the MPA's boundary from the edge of the reef flat at low tide instead of the beach at high tide (the current best in Seychelles) significantly increased the MPA's coverage of predator movements by an average of 34%. Informed by these results, the larger MPA was adopted by the Seychelles government, demonstrating how telemetry data can improve shark spatial conservation by affecting policy directly.

Keywords: animal telemetry; conservation; ecology; management.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Conservation of Natural Resources / methods*
  • Coral Reefs*
  • Indian Ocean
  • Sharks*
  • Telemetry*
  • Turtles*