MEPS 517:229-250 (2014)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps11043

Characterizing Pacific halibut movement and habitat in a Marine Protected Area using net squared displacement analysis methods

Julie K. Nielsen1,*, Philip N. Hooge2,4, S. James Taggart2,5, Andrew C. Seitz3

1School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, University of Alaska Fairbanks, 17101 Pt. Lena Loop Rd., Juneau, Alaska 99801, USA
2US Geological Survey Alaska Science Center, 3100 National Park Road, Juneau, Alaska 99801, USA
3School of fisheries and Ocean Sciences, University of Alaska Fairbanks, PO Box 757220, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska 99775, USA
4Present address: Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, PO Box 140, Gustavus, Alaska 99826, USA
5Present address: 1350 Yulupa Ave. Apt. B, Santa Rosa, California 95405, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: We characterized small-scale movement patterns and habitat of acoustic-tagged adult (68 to 220 cm total length) female Pacific halibut during summer and fall in Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska, a marine protected area (MPA). We used net squared displacement analysis methods to identify 2 movement states, characterize individual dispersal patterns, and relate habitat variables to movement scales. Movement states identified for 32 of 43 halibut consisted of (1) a non-dispersive ‘residential’ movement state (n = 27 fish), where movement was restricted to an average movement radius of 401.3 m (95% CI 312.2-515.9 m) over a median observation period of 58 d, and (2) a ‘dispersive’ movement state (n = 15 fish), where movements of up to 18 km occurred over a median observation period of 27 d. Some fish (n = 10) exhibited both movement states. Individual fish demonstrated primarily non-random dispersal patterns including home range (n = 17), site fidelity (return to previously occupied locations following forays, n = 6), and shifted home ranges (n = 5). However, we also observed a random dispersal pattern (n = 4) with an estimated mean ± SE diffusion rate of 0.9 ± 0.05 km2 d-1. Home range size increased with depth but not fish size. Home range locations were associated with heterogeneous habitat, intermediate tidal velocities, and depths <100 m. Observations of non-dispersive movement patterns, relatively small home ranges, and site fidelity for adult females suggest that MPAs such as Glacier Bay may have utility for conservation of Pacific halibut broodstock.


KEY WORDS: Movement ecology · Home range · Site fidelity · Net Squared Displacement · Dispersal · Marine Protected Area · Flatfish · Pacific halibut


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Cite this article as: Nielsen JK, Hooge PN, Taggart SJ, Seitz AC (2014) Characterizing Pacific halibut movement and habitat in a Marine Protected Area using net squared displacement analysis methods. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 517:229-250. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps11043

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