MEPS 154:65-77 (1997)  -  doi:10.3354/meps154065

Home range and activity patterns of the coral trout Plectropomus leopardus (Serranidae)

Zeller DC

Patterns of movement and space utilization by fishes are becoming increasingly important to the understanding of population dynamics, community structure and spatial population models. Despite this, information regarding patterns of movement is rare for fishes. The aim of this study was to determine home ranges and basic temporal patterns of space use of Plectropomus leopardus (Serranidae), a species of major fishing importance on coral reefs. Thirty-nine individual P. leopardus (size range: 37.6 to 67.5 cm FL) were tracked successfully via ultrasonic telemetry between 1993 and 1995. Eight of these were tracked during 2 subsequent field trips, resulting in 47 separate tracking sessions, comprising a total of 2024 fish-tracking days. Average minimum area polygon home ranges of P. leopardus differed between fish from continuous fringing reefs [10458.4 m2 ± 962.3 (SE)] and isolated patch reefs [18796.9 m2 ± 3188.8 (SE)], and were due to differences in widths of home ranges, with fringing reef home ranges being narrower than patch reef ones. Lengths of home ranges did not differ between reef types. Home ranges did not differ between male and female fish, and were stable within and between each tracking session (maximum 202 d between sessions). P. leopardus were diurnally active, regularly using a small number of physical locations (3 or 4) within their home ranges. Mean daily distance moved within home ranges was 192.2 m ± 5.09 (SE), with the maximum being 1121.8 m. Patterns of space use were relatively consistent throughout the day. Location fidelity was very high at night, and reflected limited movements by the fish. The present data document for the first time the home range of a large coral reef serranid, and illustrate its preference for a small number of locations within a larger home range area. Ultrasonic telemetry is the most suitable tool for evaluation of home ranges and movements of large reef fishes. This has implications for the acquisition of data required for the evaluation of marine reserves as fisheries management tools for coral reefs.


Activity patterns · Coral reef fish · Fisheries management · Home ranges · Marine reserves · Plectropomus leopardus · Serranidae · Ultrasonic telemetry


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