Inter-Research > MEPS > v655 > p199-214  
Marine Ecology Progress Series

via Mailchimp

MEPS 655:199-214 (2020)  -  DOI:

Spatial ecology of Nassau grouper at home reef sites: using acoustic telemetry to track a large, long-lived epinephelid across multiple years (2005-2008)

Kayla M. Blincow1, Phillippe G. Bush2, Scott A. Heppell3, Croy M. McCoy2, Bradley C. Johnson2, Christy V. Pattengill-Semmens4, Selina S. Heppell3, Sierra J. Stevens-McGeever1, Leslie Whaylen4,5, Kirsten Luke6, Brice X. Semmens1,*

1Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093, USA
2Department of Environment, Cayman Islands Government, Grand Cayman KY1-1002, Cayman Islands
3Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon 97331, USA
4Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF), Key Largo, Florida 33037, USA
5Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Galveston, Texas 77551, USA
6Atlantic Coast Joint Venture, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Panama City, Florida 32405, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Characterizing the behavior of coral reef fishes at home reef sites can provide insight into the mechanisms of spatial ecology and provide a framework for spatial resource management. In the Caribbean, populations of Nassau grouper Epinephelus striatus have declined due to fishing impacts on spawning aggregations. Despite local and regional efforts by fisheries managers to implement regulations protecting spawning aggregations, few Nassau grouper populations appear to be recovering. In order to improve management strategies for this critically endangered species, it is necessary to understand the spatial ecology of the species across seasons and years. In the Cayman Islands, we used a multi-year, presence/absence, depth-coded acoustic tagging dataset of Nassau grouper to characterize patterns in the species’ behavior and vertical habitat use at home reef sites. Twenty acoustically tagged individuals (56-84 cm, 70.01 ± 7.40 cm; total length, mean ± SD) maintained consistent home reef sites, although some fish regularly shifted activity centers within the home site, often following a seasonal spawning migration. Seven fish with depth-coded tags showed a higher probability of vertical movement in the hours immediately following dawn and preceding dusk. We found evidence of a positive relationship between the fish condition factor and depth of home reef site. The finding of persistent home reef sites across years suggests that properly sized spatial reserves at home reef sites can be a useful complement to spawning aggregation protection when considering management strategies for Nassau grouper.

KEY WORDS: Grouper · Acoustic telemetry · Marine protected area · Movement · Ontogeny

Full text in pdf format
Supplement 1
Supplement 2
Cite this article as: Blincow KM, Bush PG, Heppell SA, McCoy CM and others (2020) Spatial ecology of Nassau grouper at home reef sites: using acoustic telemetry to track a large, long-lived epinephelid across multiple years (2005-2008). Mar Ecol Prog Ser 655:199-214.

Export citation
Share:    Facebook - - linkedIn

 Previous article Next article