MEPS prepress abstract  -  DOI:

Residency and inter-reef connectivity of three gamefishes between natural reefs and a large mitigation artificial reef

Ryan K. Logan*, Christopher G. Lowe


ABSTRACT: Understanding the spatial and temporal patterns of residency for mobile gamefish species to artificial reefs (ARs), and connectivity with adjacent natural habitats is critical in quantifying AR productivity. Forty-five kelp bass (KB; Paralabrax clathratus), 45 barred sand bass (BSB; P. nebulifer) and 45 california sheephead (SH; Semicossyphus pulcher) were tracked for 2 years using passive acoustic telemetry on the Wheeler North Artificial Reef (WNAR), and an additional 20 fish (~7, 7, and 6 KB, SH, and BSB, respectively) were tagged at each of 3 nearby natural reefs (n = 195 fish) in the area of San Clemente, California. SH exhibited significantly higher site fidelity (proportion of days detected since tagging; 74 ± 27%) than KB (45 ± 38%) and BSB (30 ± 26%) to WNAR; however, BSB displayed seasonal residency. All species tagged at WNAR showed high affinity to the area of the reef they were tagged. The majority of fish exhibited site attachment to the reef from which they were tagged, as only 13.3% of all fish were detected on a reef other than their respective tagging reef, and usually for short durations. Results of this study suggest that fish are not moving randomly among natural and AR habitats, and there was no evidence of migration of fish to WNAR. In addition, consistent long-term presence of these highly mobile fish suggests that WNAR is providing sufficient resources for the species examined, and thus, is functioning in much the same way as surrounding natural habitat.