|Title||Fish sound production and acoustic telemetry reveal behaviors and spatial patterns associated with spawning aggregations of two Caribbean groupers|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2015|
|Authors||Rowell T.J, Nemeth R.S, Scharer M.T, Appeldoorn R.S|
|Journal||Marine Ecology Progress Series|
|Type of Article||Article|
|Keywords||coral-reef fish; Epinephelus striatus; epinephelus-striatus pisces; Fish movement; fisheries science; gulf-of-mexico; Marine protected area; Mycteroperca; mycteroperca-venenosa; nassau grouper; passive acoustics; patterns; protected areas; red hind; Ultrasonic acoustic tagging; us-virgin-islands; venenosa; Yellowfin grouper|
Regional abundances of Nassau grouper Epinephelus striatus and yellowfin grouper Mycteroperca venenosa have declined due to overfishing of their spawning aggregations, prompting permanent and seasonal fisheries closures in the US Virgin Islands (USVI). As both species produce sounds associated with reproductive behaviors (courtship-associated sounds; CAS), passive acoustic and acoustic telemetry methods were used to determine temporal patterns of reproductive activity, site usage, and fish movements in order to assess the effectiveness of current management strategies at 2 marine protected areas (MPAs) in the USVI: the Grammanik Bank (GB) and Hind Bank Marine Conservation District (MCD). Patterns of sound production and ultrasonic acoustic tag detections showed that both species formed spawning aggregations from January through May at the GB, highlighting the current seasonal regulations (1 February to 30 April) as insufficient for protecting spawning stocks during the entire reproductive season. Acoustic tagging confirmed connectivity between the GB and MCD and exposed the broad extent of habitat used, including non-protected areas, during the spawning season. Spawning did not likely occur within the MCD, but the MPA did support abundances of calling individuals during spawning periods, indicating that both species produce CAS away from their spawning sites. This finding coupled with the detection of routine migrations between spawning and non-spawning sites presents a potential mechanism to lead conspecifics to the aggregation site and thereby increase reproductive fitness and spawning output.