Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Tidal and diel movement patterns of the Atlantic stingray (Dasyatis sabina) along a stream-order gradient

Cameron Patrick Brinton A B and Mary Carla Curran A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Savannah State University, Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences, Box 20467, Savannah, GA 31404, USA.

B Corresponding author. Email: cameron.brinton@gmail.com

Marine and Freshwater Research - https://doi.org/10.1071/MF16073
Submitted: 9 April 2016  Accepted: 31 October 2016   Published online: 17 January 2017

Abstract

The behaviour of the Atlantic stingray (Dasyatis sabina) is affected by environmental cues, including time of day and tide. The purpose of the present study was to determine whether these cycles and differences in creek geomorphology affected presence and movement patterns of Atlantic stingrays near Savannah, GA, USA. Forty-five stingrays were tagged with Vemco coded-acoustic transmitters and passively tracked in two creek systems between December 2012 and December 2014. The geomorphology of the creeks was classified using the Horton stream-order concept, with the smallest tributaries assigned to the first order. Stingrays moved most at dusk (0.26 ± 0.09 movements day–1), followed by night (0.23 ± 0.09 movements day–1). Stingrays were found in deeper water during the cold season than during the warm season. Patterns in creek usage across tidal stages were nearly consistent across seasons. However, the diel pattern varied; stingrays utilised all creek orders throughout the diel cycle in the warm seasons, but entered only shallow creeks during the day in the cold season. Because presence and movements of stingrays were affected by tidal and diel cycles, these environmental factors could also affect their foraging patterns and their influence as an ecosystem engineer.

Additional keywords: elasmobranchs, estuarine, tides, hydrology.


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