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ESR 42:7-20 (2020)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/esr01035

Investigating the efficacy of a proposed marine protected area for the Endangered humphead wrasse Cheilinus undulatus at a remote island group in Seychelles

Ryan Daly1,2,3,*, Clare A. Keating Daly3, Andrew E. Gray4, Lauren R. Peel1,5,6,7, Luke Gordon1,7, James S. E. Lea8,9, Christopher R. Clarke9, Kevin C. Weng10

1Save Our Seas Foundation - D'Arros Research Centre (SOSF-DRC), Rue Philippe Plantamour 20, 1201 Geneva, Switzerland
2South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB), Private Bag 1015, Grahamstown 6140, South Africa
3Oceanographic Research Institute, PO Box 10712, Marine Parade, 4056, Durban, South Africa
4Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822, USA
5School of Biological Sciences, The Oceans Institute and The Oceans Graduate School, The University of Western Australia, Crawley, Western Australia 6009, Australia
6The Australian Institute of Marine Science, Crawley, Western Australia 6009, Australia
7The Manta Trust, Catemwood House, Norwood Lane, Corscombe, Dorset DT2 0NT, UK
8Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 1TN, UK
9Marine Research Facility, PO Box 10646, Jeddah, 21443, Saudi Arabia
10Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William & Mary, Gloucester Point, Virginia 23062-1346, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The humphead wrasse Cheilinus undulatus is an iconic, ecologically important and Endangered fish species associated with coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific region. Due to its large size and complex life history characteristics, it is vulnerable to overfishing and has undergone substantial population declines in parts of its range. Knowledge of the species’ movement ecology is currently limited to only 2 previous studies, and very little is known about populations in the western Indian Ocean. The present study aimed to use passive acoustic telemetry to investigate the importance of a remote coral reef to a population of humphead wrasse in the Republic of Seychelles, and subsequently assess the efficacy of a proposed marine protected area at this location for protection of the species. Tagged fish (n = 20) exhibited persistent (>500 d) site fidelity, with low dispersal distances (mean ± SD: 6.44 ± 4.0 km) and restricted core activity spaces (50% Brownian bridge kernel utilization density: 0.91 ± 0.61 km2). Additionally, the study site was home to a group of large (total length 97.9 ± 20.6 cm) and currently unexploited humphead wrasse that showed long-term predictable site fidelity and thus could be vulnerable to over-exploitation. The establishment of a proposed no-take marine protected area at the study site would encompass the core home range area of all tagged humphead wrasse and could effectively conserve this stronghold of Endangered fish to ensure the persistence of the species in Seychelles waters.


KEY WORDS: Humphead wrasse · Cheilinus undulatus · Home range · Spatial ecology · Coral reef · Marine protected area · Acoustic telemetry


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Cite this article as: Daly R, Keating Daly CA, Gray AE, Peel LR and others (2020) Investigating the efficacy of a proposed marine protected area for the Endangered humphead wrasse Cheilinus undulatus at a remote island group in Seychelles. Endang Species Res 42:7-20. https://doi.org/10.3354/esr01035

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