MEPS 380:255-269 (2009)  -  doi:10.3354/meps07911

Movement of gray snapper Lutjanus griseus among subtropical seagrass, mangrove, and coral reef habitats

Jiangang Luo1,*, Joseph E. Serafy1,2, Su Sponaugle1, Paul B. Teare1, David Kieckbusch3

1University of Miami, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, Division of Marine Biology and Fisheries,
4600 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, Florida 33149, USA
2NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Fisheries Science Center, 75 Virginia Beach Drive, Miami, Florida 33149, USA
3Milian, Swain & Associates, Inc. 2257 Vista Parkway, Ste. 19, West Palm Beach, Florida 33411, USA

ABSTRACT: Many fishes are thought to make diel, seasonal and/or ontogenetic migrations among seagrass, mangrove, and coral reef habitats. However, most evidence of such movement has been inferred from density and size structure differences among these habitats in tropical waters. The aim of the present study was to directly evaluate multiple habitat use by an ecologically and economically important reef fish, the gray snapper Lutjanus griseus, in subtropical waters. An integrated set of activities was conducted, including tagging and tracking of individuals and underwater video photography to examine the spatial and temporal dynamics of movements among neighboring mangrove, seagrass, and coral reef habitats in the northern Florida Keys, USA. Results of ultrasonic acoustic and mini-archival tagging indicated that L. griseus exhibits: (1) a distinct diel migration pattern, whereby shallow seagrass beds are frequented nocturnally and mangroves and other habitats with complex structure are occupied diurnally, and (2) bay-to-ocean movement, occurring during the known spawning season of L. griseus in this region. Video photography confirmed diel movement among seagrass and mangrove habitats. Results of this subtropical study corroborate direct and indirect evidence obtained in tropical waters of multiple inshore habitat use by L. griseus, as well as its seasonal movement into or towards offshore reefs. For resource managers charged with designing and implementing management plans for subtropical coastal habitats and fisheries, our findings provide direct support for the strategy of conserving both inshore seagrass and mangrove habitats as well as offshore coral reefs.

KEY WORDS: Diel · Seasonal · Gray snapper · Movement · Mangrove · Seagrass · Reef · Acoustic tagging · Underwater video

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Cite this article as: Luo J, Serafy JE, Sponaugle S, Teare PB, Kieckbusch D (2009) Movement of gray snapper Lutjanus griseus among subtropical seagrass, mangrove, and coral reef habitats. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 380:255-269

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