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Elasmobranch Use of Nearshore Estuarine Habitats Responds to Fine-Scale, Intra-Seasonal Environmental Variation: Observing Coastal Shark Density in a Temperate Estuary Utilizing Unoccupied Aircraft Systems (UAS)

Duke University Marine Laboratory, Division of Marine Science and Conservation, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University, 135 Duke Marine Lab Rd, Beaufort, NC 28516, USA
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Drones 2020, 4(4), 74; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones4040074
Received: 26 November 2020 / Revised: 3 December 2020 / Accepted: 5 December 2020 / Published: 8 December 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Drone Technology for Wildlife and Human Management)
Many coastal shark species are known to use estuaries of the coastal southeastern United States for essential purposes like foraging, reproducing, and protection from predation. Temperate estuarine landscapes, such as the Rachel Carson Reserve (RCR) in Beaufort, NC, are dynamic habitat mosaics that experience fluctuations in physical and chemical oceanographic properties on various temporal and spatial scales. These patterns in abiotic conditions play an important role in determining species movement. The goal of this study was to understand the impact of environmental conditions around the RCR on shark density within the high-abundance summer season. Unoccupied Aircraft System (UAS) surveys of coastal habitats within the reserve were used to quantify shark density across varying environmental conditions. A combination of correlation analyses and Generalized Linear Modelling (GLM) revealed that density differs substantially across study sites and increases with rising water temperatures, conclusions that are supported by previous work in similar habitats. Additionally, density appears to increase moving towards dawn and dusk, potentially supporting crepuscular activity in coastal estuarine areas. By describing shark density dynamics in the RCR, this study provides new information on this population and presents a novel framework for studying elasmobranchs in temperate estuaries. View Full-Text
Keywords: elasmobranchs; UAS; animal density; wildlife monitoring; technology; shark elasmobranchs; UAS; animal density; wildlife monitoring; technology; shark
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MDPI and ACS Style

DiGiacomo, A.E.; Harrison, W.E.; Johnston, D.W.; Ridge, J.T. Elasmobranch Use of Nearshore Estuarine Habitats Responds to Fine-Scale, Intra-Seasonal Environmental Variation: Observing Coastal Shark Density in a Temperate Estuary Utilizing Unoccupied Aircraft Systems (UAS). Drones 2020, 4, 74. https://doi.org/10.3390/drones4040074

AMA Style

DiGiacomo AE, Harrison WE, Johnston DW, Ridge JT. Elasmobranch Use of Nearshore Estuarine Habitats Responds to Fine-Scale, Intra-Seasonal Environmental Variation: Observing Coastal Shark Density in a Temperate Estuary Utilizing Unoccupied Aircraft Systems (UAS). Drones. 2020; 4(4):74. https://doi.org/10.3390/drones4040074

Chicago/Turabian Style

DiGiacomo, Alexandra E.; Harrison, Walker E.; Johnston, David W.; Ridge, Justin T. 2020. "Elasmobranch Use of Nearshore Estuarine Habitats Responds to Fine-Scale, Intra-Seasonal Environmental Variation: Observing Coastal Shark Density in a Temperate Estuary Utilizing Unoccupied Aircraft Systems (UAS)" Drones 4, no. 4: 74. https://doi.org/10.3390/drones4040074

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