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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 262:253-265 (2003)  -  doi:10.3354/meps262253

Snapper Pagrus auratus (Sparidae) home range dynamics: acoustic tagging studies in a marine reserve

D. M. Parsons1,5,*, R. C. Babcock1,6, R. K. S. Hankin2, T. J. Willis1,7, J. P. Aitken3,8, R. K. O¹Dor3,9, G. D. Jackson4

1Leigh Marine Laboratory, University of Auckland, PO Box 349, Warkworth, New Zealand
2School of Geography and Environmental Science, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland 1020, New Zealand
3Department of Biology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4R2, Canada
4Institute of Antarctic and Southern Ocean Studies, University of Tasmania, GPO Box 252-77 Hobart, Tasmania 7001, Australia Present addresses:
5Department of Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, North Carolina State University, Box 8208, Raleigh, North Carolina 27695, USA
6CSIRO Marine Research, Private Bag 5, Wembley, Western Australia 6913, Australia
7Scienze Ambientali, Università di Bologna, Via Tombesi dall¹Ova 55, 48100 Ravenna, Italy
8Department of Zoology, Downing Street, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3EJ, UK
9Census of Marine Life, 1755 Massachusetts Avenue, NW #800, Washington, DC 20036, USA

ABSTRACT: The home-range size and location of reef-associated snapper Pagrus auratus: Sparidae were investigated by use of a radio acoustic-positioning telemetry (RAPT) system. Tags were surgically implanted in 5 snapper that were subsequently monitored every minute for a period of 5 mo, and then intermittently over another 7 mo. Site fidelity was high amongst these fish, with home ranges not exceeding 650 m in diameter or 139600 m2 in area. Eleven other snapper received tags by feeding and were tracked for periods of up to 2.5 d. Site fidelity was also high for these fish, with standardised estimates of home-range size not differing between the 2 groups. Home ranges overlapped considerably, indicating that the fish were not territorial. The location of the home ranges generally remained stable throughout the entire tracking period, although 1 fish relocated its home range by ~220 m. A new method of home-range estimation was developed, which matched the level of detail provided by the RAPT system, to directly estimate the time spent in an area. The relevance of this method and the residential behaviour of these fish are discussed, with reference to the general understanding of animal behaviour, previous investigations into snapper movement, and the selective capacity that may be imposed by marine reserves on fish behaviour.

KEY WORDS: Pagrus auratus · Snapper behaviour · Home range · Site fidelity · Residency · Utilisation distribution · New Zealand · Marine reserve

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