Source: PLOS ONE, 10 (6), JUN 24 2015
Brief summary of the paper: This study investigated prey captures in free-ranging adult female Australian fur seals (Arctocephalus pusillus doriferus) using head-mounted 3-axis accelerometers and animal-borne video cameras. Acceleration data was used to identify individual attempted prey captures (APC), and video data were used to independently verify APC and prey types.
Results demonstrated that head-mounted accelerometers could detect individual APC but were unable to distinguish among prey types (fish, cephalopod, stingray) or between successful captures and unsuccessful capture attempts. Mean detection rate (true positive rate) on individual animals in the testing subset ranged from 67-100%, and mean detection on the testing subset averaged across 4 animals ranged from 82-97%. Mean False positive (FP) rate ranged from 15-67% individually in the testing subset, and 26-59% averaged across 4 animals. Surge and sway had significantly greater detection rates, but also conversely greater FP rates compared to heave.
Video data also indicated that some head movements recorded by the accelerometers were unrelated to APC and that a peak in acceleration variance did not always equate to an individual prey item.
The results of the present study indicate that head-mounted accelerometers provide a complementary tool for investigating foraging behaviour in pinnipeds, but that detection and FP correction factors need to be applied for reliable field application.