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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 619:111-124 (2019)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12953

Should I stay or should I go? Intra-population variability in movement behaviour of wide-ranging and resident coastal fishes

J. Q. Maggs1,2,*, P. D. Cowley3, S. N. Porter1, A. R. Childs2

1Oceanographic Research Institute, PO Box 10712, Durban 4056, South Africa
2Department of Ichthyology and Fisheries Science, Rhodes University, PO Box 94, Grahamstown 6140, South Africa
3South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity, Private Bag 1015, Grahamstown 6140, South Africa
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Life-cycle diversity is the existence of alternative strategies among coexisting individuals within the same population and is an important factor in the structuring and connectivity of fish stocks. Mark-recapture data, collected along the coastline of southern Africa from 1984-2015, were used to investigate the occurrence of different movement behaviours (resident vs. wide-ranging) in 5 fishery species with contrasting life histories. A total of 88245 individuals was tagged, with recapture rates ranging from 4-27% for the 5 species. Individuals were considered resident if recaptured within 0-5 km of the release site after 365 d at liberty or wide-ranging if recaptured more than 50 km from the release site within 365 d. All species exhibited resident and wide-ranging behaviour, but 73% of observations qualified as resident. Logistic regression confirmed that species, life stage (juvenile/adult) and bioregion were significant predictors of wide-ranging behaviour, with tagged adults at lower latitudes being most inclined to undertake wide-ranging movements. A Gaussian model confirmed that species and bioregion were also significant predictors of direction and distance of wide-ranging movement, with typically resident species on the west coast behaving differently from typically migratory species on the east coast. Growth rate was greater in wide-ranging individuals, although it was only statistically significant in 2 species. Our findings provide evidence in support of movement variability being a widely used strategy in both teleosts and elasmobranchs. Diversity in movement behaviour may provide resilience at the population level and should be considered in fisheries management.


KEY WORDS: Intra-population variability · Partial migration · Ecological resilience · Fish movement · Mark-recapture · Fisheries management


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Cite this article as: Maggs JQ, Cowley PD, Porter SN, Childs AR (2019) Should I stay or should I go? Intra-population variability in movement behaviour of wide-ranging and resident coastal fishes. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 619:111-124. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12953

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