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      Tracking fitness in marine vertebrates: current knowledge and opportunities for future research

      , , ,
      Marine Ecology Progress Series
      Inter-Research Science Center

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          Biotelemetry: a mechanistic approach to ecology.

          Remote measurement of the physiology, behaviour and energetic status of free-living animals is made possible by a variety of techniques that we refer to collectively as 'biotelemetry'. This set of tools ranges from transmitters that send their signals to receivers up to a few kilometers away to those that send data to orbiting satellites and, more frequently, to devices that log data. They enable researchers to document, for long uninterrupted periods, how undisturbed organisms interact with each other and their environment in real time. In spite of advances enabling the monitoring of many physiological and behavioural variables across a range of taxa of various sizes, these devices have yet to be embraced widely by the ecological community. Our review suggests that this technology has immense potential for research in basic and applied animal ecology. Efforts to incorporate biotelemetry into broader ecological research programs should yield novel information that has been challenging to collect historically from free-ranging animals in their natural environments. Examples of research that would benefit from biotelemetry include the assessment of animal responses to different anthropogenic perturbations and the development of life-time energy budgets.
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            Migratory shearwaters integrate oceanic resources across the Pacific Ocean in an endless summer.

            Electronic tracking tags have revolutionized our understanding of broad-scale movements and habitat use of highly mobile marine animals, but a large gap in our knowledge still remains for a wide range of small species. Here, we report the extraordinary transequatorial postbreeding migrations of a small seabird, the sooty shearwater, obtained with miniature archival tags that log data for estimating position, dive depth, and ambient temperature. Tracks (262+/-23 days) reveal that shearwaters fly across the entire Pacific Ocean in a figure-eight pattern while traveling 64,037+/-9,779 km roundtrip, the longest animal migration ever recorded electronically. Each shearwater made a prolonged stopover in one of three discrete regions off Japan, Alaska, or California before returning to New Zealand through a relatively narrow corridor in the central Pacific Ocean. Transit rates as high as 910+/-186 km.day-1 were recorded, and shearwaters accessed prey resources in both the Northern and Southern Hemisphere's most productive waters from the surface to 68.2 m depth. Our results indicate that sooty shearwaters integrate oceanic resources throughout the Pacific Basin on a yearly scale. Sooty shearwater populations today are declining, and because they operate on a global scale, they may serve as an important indicator of climate change and ocean health.
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              Fitness and its role in evolutionary genetics.

              Although the operation of natural selection requires that genotypes differ in fitness, some geneticists may find it easier to understand natural selection than fitness. Partly this reflects the fact that the word 'fitness' has been used to mean subtly different things. In this Review I distinguish among these meanings (for example, individual fitness, absolute fitness and relative fitness) and explain how evolutionary geneticists use fitness to predict changes in the genetic composition of populations through time. I also review the empirical study of fitness, emphasizing approaches that take advantage of recent genetic and genomic data, and I highlight important unresolved problems in understanding fitness.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Marine Ecology Progress Series
                Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser.
                Inter-Research Science Center
                0171-8630
                1616-1599
                January 27 2014
                January 27 2014
                : 496
                :
                : 1-17
                Article
                10.3354/meps10691
                ed3a4285-9495-46ac-a60d-46d92607e626
                © 2014
                Product
                Self URI (article page): http://www.int-res.com/abstracts/meps/v496/p1-17/

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