Scaling of Activity Space in Marine Organisms across Latitudinal Gradients

Vinay Udyawer, Charlie Huveneers, Fabrice Jaine, Russell C. Babcock, Stephanie Brodie, Marie-Jeanne Buscot, Hamish A. Campbell, Robert G. Harcourt, Xavier Hoenner, Elodie J. I. Lédée, Colin A. Simpfendorfer, Matthew D. Taylor, Asia Armstrong, Adam Barnett, Culum Brown, Barry Bruce, Paul A. Butcher, Gwenael Cadiou, Lydie I. E. Couturier, Leanne Currey-RandallMichael Drew, Christine L. Dudgeon, Ross G. Dwyer, Mario Espinoza, Luciana C. Ferreira, Anthony Fowler, David Harasti, Alastair R. Harborne, Nathan A. Knott, Kate Lee, Matt Lloyd, Michael Lowry, Teagan Marzullo, Jordan Matley, Jaime D. McAllister, Rory McAuley, Frazer McGregor, Mark Meekan, Kade Mills, Bradley M. Norman, Beverly Oh, Nicholas L. Payne, Vic Peddemors, Toby Piddocke, Richard D. Pillans, Richard D. Reina, Paul Rogers, Jayson M. Semmens, Amy Smoothey, Conrad W. Speed, Dylan van der Meulen, Michelle R. Heupel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
25 Downloads (Pure)


Unifying models have shown that the amount of space used by animals (e.g., activity space, home range) scales allometrically with body mass for terrestrial taxa; however, such relationships are far less clear for marine species. We compiled movement data from 1,596 individuals across 79 taxa collected using a continental passive acoustic telemetry network of acoustic receivers to assess allometric scaling of activity space. We found that ectothermic marine taxa do exhibit allometric scaling for activity space, with an overall scaling exponent of 0.64. However, body mass alone explained only 35% of the variation, with the remaining variation best explained by trophic position for teleosts and latitude for sharks, rays, and marine reptiles. Taxon-specific allometric relationships highlighted weaker scaling exponents among teleost fish species (0.07) than sharks (0.96), rays (0.55), and marine reptiles (0.57). The allometric scaling relationship and scaling exponents for the marine taxonomic groups examined were lower than those reported from studies that had collated both marine and terrestrial species data derived using various tracking methods. We propose that these disparities arise because previous work integrated summarized data across many studies that used differing methods for collecting and quantifying activity space, introducing considerable uncertainty into slope estimates. Our findings highlight the benefit of using large-scale, coordinated animal biotelemetry networks to address cross-taxa evolutionary and ecological questions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)586-602
Number of pages17
JournalAmerican Naturalist
Issue number4
Early online date17 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023


  • acoustic telemetry
  • Brownian bridge kernel utilization distribution (KUD)
  • continental network
  • Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS)
  • metabolic theory
  • spatial ecology


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