Movement patterns of reef predators in a small isolated marine protected area with implications for resource management
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Reef predators play a critical role in maintaining the balance of marine ecosystems and are an important component of Hawaii’s recreational and commercial fisheries. In response to the increasing anthropogenic demands on these populations across the main Hawaiian Islands, the study of predator movements in marine protected areas has become a research priority. To this aim, we used passive acoustic telemetry to investigate the spatial and temporal movement patterns of five reef predator species: bluefin trevally (Caranx melampygus), giant trevally (Caranx ignobilis), green jobfish (Aprion virescens), whitetip reef sharks (Triaenodon obesus) and gray reef sharks (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos) at the 31 ha Molokini Marine Life Conservation District (MLCD) off Maui, Hawaii (Lat: 20°37′56.70″N, Lon: 156°29′44.52″W) from November 13, 2013 to August 28, 2015. Our results indicate that the predator assemblage in the MLCD was dominated by teleost fishes during the day and sharks at night. Residency was variable across species, with bluefin trevally exhibiting the highest residency in the MLCD, green jobfish the lowest, and long-distance movements between the Molokini MLCD and the other islands of the Maui Nui Complex were common for gray reef sharks and giant trevally. These results indicate that despite its small size, the Molokini MLCD provides a high level of protection to resident species such as bluefin trevally. However, this MLCD is less effective at protecting more mobile predators such as green jobfish, gray reef sharks and giant trevally.
KeywordsGreat Barrier Reef Residency Rate Diel Cycle Reef Shark Main Hawaiian Island
This study was funded by the State of Hawaii’s Division of Aquatic Resources. We thank the Maui Division of Aquatic Resources staff for boat use, logistics, and personnel support, the staff at the Kahoʻolawe Island Reserve Commission for their assistance in placing an acoustic receiver on Kahoʻolawe and Dr. Carl Meyer for sharing fish detection data from his acoustic array on Maui. Additionally we would like to thank Les Hata© Hawai‘i Division of Aquatic Resources for the use of the fish illustrations shown in Fig. 3 of this manuscript. The assistance and local knowledge from Linda Castro, Tatiana Martinez and the staff at the Maui Division of Aquatic resources was indispensable for the success of this project and we gratefully acknowledge their contributions.
This study was funded by the State of Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Aquatic Resources award Number 33435.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
All international, national, and institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed and fish handling methods were reviewed and approved by the University of Hawaii’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, IACUC protocol number 13-1712. Finally all fishing activities inside the MLCD were conducted under the State of Hawaii Special Activity Permit number 2014-23.
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