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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 381:273-286 (2009)  -  DOI:

Multi-scale patterns of habitat use in a highly mobile reef fish, the white trevally Pseudocaranx dentex, and their implications for marine reserve design

Pedro Afonso1,2,*, Jorge Fontes1, Kim N. Holland2, Ricardo S. Santos1

1Dept. of Oceanography & Fisheries and Institute of Marine Research, University of the Azores, Cais de Santa Cruz, 9901-862 Horta, Portugal
2Dept. of Zoology and Hawai’i Institute of Marine Biology, University of Hawai’i, 46-007 Lilipuna Road, Kane’ohe, Hawaii 96744, USA

ABSTRACT: The fisheries benefits of marine reserves are hard to achieve for highly vagile fish species. An alternative is to protect essential habitats, such as spawning grounds, especially if these are stable over time. We studied the movements and habitat use patterns of white trevally Pseudocaranx dentex (Carangidae), a commercially important species, to assist in the design of marine reserves. Diel, seasonal and inter-annual movements of trevally were studied using active acoustic tracking, passive acoustic monitoring and standard tag-release in the Faial Channel, Azores Islands. White trevally were captured at inshore and offshore reefs. Inshore trevally moved daily alongshore, using large activity spaces, while the short-term movements of offshore trevally were restricted to the reef summits. During the summer spawning season, both groups displayed frequent migrations of up to several kilometres, but inshore fish remained inshore, whereas offshore reef fish expanded their range to include visits to inshore sites. This behaviour eventually resulted in low long-term residence within the study area, especially that of inshore fish. During the spawning season, one inshore site was visited by most of the fish. However, instead of gathering in large aggregations at a single location, it appears that the trevally adopted a multiple-site visiting behaviour, which may increase mating opportunities through mixing between inshore and offshore fish that are otherwise segregated for most of the year. Protection of spawning biomass and sites for this species seems potentially feasible, but this would require protecting a suite of sites per island. Furthermore, because fish would not be fully protected under this scenario, we argue that such spatial management measures need to be accompanied by conventional fishing-effort control measures applied to all local populations.

KEY WORDS: Trevally · Acoustic telemetry · Home range · Residency · Spawning aggregation · Marine reserves

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Cite this article as: Afonso P, Fontes J, Holland KN, Santos RS (2009) Multi-scale patterns of habitat use in a highly mobile reef fish, the white trevally Pseudocaranx dentex, and their implications for marine reserve design. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 381:273-286.

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