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MEPS prepress abstract   -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13637

Regional-scale variability in the movement ecology of marine fishes revealed by an integrative acoustic tracking network

Claudia Friess*, Susan Lowerre-Barbieri, Gregg R. Poulakis, Neil Hammerschlag, Jayne M. Gardiner, Andrea M. Kroetz, Kim Bassos-Hull, Joel Bickford, Erin C. Bohaboy, Robert D. Ellis, Hayden Menendez, William F. Patterson III, Melissa E. Price, Jennifer S. Rehage, Colin P. Shea, Matthew J. Smukall, Sarah Walters Burnsed, Krystan A. Wilkinson, Joy Young, Angela Collins, Breanna C. DeGroot, Cheston T. Peterson, Caleb Purtlebaugh, Michael Randall, Rachel M. Scharer, Ryan W. Schloesser, Tonya R. Wiley, Gina A. Alvarez, Andy Danylchuck, Adam G. Fox, R. Dean Grubbs, Ashley Hill, James V. Locascio, Patrick M. O’Donnell, Gregory B. Skomal, Fred G. Whoriskey, Lucas P. Griffin

*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Marine fish movement plays a critical role in ecosystem functioning and is increasingly studied with acoustic telemetry. Traditionally, this research has focused on single species and small spatial scales. However, integrated tracking networks, such as the Integrated Tracking of Aquatic Animals in the Gulf of Mexico (iTAG) network, are building the capacity to monitor multiple species over larger spatial scales. We conducted a synthesis of passive acoustic monitoring data for 29 species (889 transmitters), ranging from large top predators to small consumers, monitored along the west coast of Florida, USA, over 3 yr (2016–2018). Space use was highly variable, with some groups using all monitored areas and others using only the area where they were tagged. The most extensive space use was found for Atlantic tarpon Megalops atlanticus and bull shark Carcharhinus leucas. Individuals’ detection patterns clustered into 4 groups, ranging from occasionally detected long-distance movers to frequently detected juvenile or adult residents. Synchronized, alongshore, long-distance movements were found for Atlantic tarpon, cobia Rachycentron canadum and several elasmobranch species. These movements were predominantly northbound in spring and southbound in fall. Detections of top predators were highest in summer, except for nearshore Tampa Bay where the most detections occurred in fall, coinciding with large red drum Sciaenops ocellatus spawning aggregations. We discuss the future of collaborative telemetry research, including current limitations and potential solutions to maximize its impact for understanding movement ecology, conducting ecosystem monitoring, and supporting fisheries management.