, Volume 183, Issue 3, pp 689–699 | Cite as

Spatiotemporal drivers of energy expenditure in a coastal marine fish

  • Jacob W. Brownscombe
  • Steven J. Cooke
  • Andy J. Danylchuk
Behavioral ecology –original research


Animal behavior and energy expenditure often vary significantly across the landscape, and quantifying energy expenditure over space and time provides mechanistic insight into ecological dynamics. Yet, spatiotemporal variability in energy expenditure has rarely been explored in fully aquatic species such as fish. Our objective was to quantify spatially explicit energy expenditure for a tropical marine teleost fish, bonefish (Albula vulpes), to examine how bonefish energetics vary across landscape features and temporal factors. Using a swim tunnel respirometer, we calibrated acoustic accelerometer transmitters implanted in bonefish to estimate their metabolic rates and energy expenditure, and applied this technology in situ using a fine-scale telemetry system on a heterogeneous reef flat in Puerto Rico. Bonefish energy expenditure varied most among habitats, with significant interactions between habitat and temporal factors (i.e., diel period, tide state, season). The energy expenditure was generally highest in shallow water habitats (i.e., seagrass and reef crest). Variation in activity levels was the main driver of these differences in energy expenditure, which in shallow, nearshore habitats is likely related to foraging. Bonefish moderate energy expenditure across seasonal fluctuations in temperature, by selectively using shallow nearshore habitats at moderate water temperatures that correspond with their scope for activity. Quantifying how animals expend energy in association with environmental and ecological factors can provide important insight into behavioral ecology, with implications for bioenergetics models.


Bioenergetics Animal behavior Landscape ecology Acoustic telemetry Acceleration transmitter 



This research was supported in part by the University of Puerto Rico Sea Grant Program. We thank Dr. Craig Lilyestrom (Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico), Ricardo Colón-Merced and Ana Roman (Culebra National Wildlife Refuges, US Fish and Wildlife Service), Capt. Chris Goldmark, Sammy Hernandez, Zorida Mendez, Todd and Shellie Plaia, and Henry Cruz for logistical support, as well as Jim Shulin (Temple Fork Outfitters), Simon Gawesworth (RIO Products), Al Perkinson (Costa Sunglasses), Brian Bennett (Moldy Chum), Bart Bonime, Mark Harbaugh, and Chris Gaggia (Patagonia Inc.), Brian Schmidt (Umpqua Feather Merchants), and Brooks Patterson for their support. Brownscombe is supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the American Fisheries Society Steven Berkeley Marine Conservation Fellowship. Cooke is supported by NSERC and the Canada Research Chairs program and is a Bonefish and Tarpon Trust Research Fellow. Danylchuk is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Massachusetts Agricultural Experiment Station and Department of Environmental Conservation, and is a Bonefish and Tarpon Trust Research Fellow. This research was approved by the Canadian Council on Animal Care through the Carleton University Animal Care Committee (application 11473), as well as by the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (IACUC protocol 2013-0031, University of Massachusetts Amherst, and complied with the laws of the countries in which the experiments were performed.

Author contribution statement

JWB designed the research project, conducted experiments and field studies, analyzed the data, and wrote the manuscript. AJD and SJC contributed to research design, manuscript preparation, and provided funding.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

442_2016_3800_MOESM1_ESM.docx (3.3 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 3394 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jacob W. Brownscombe
    • 1
  • Steven J. Cooke
    • 1
  • Andy J. Danylchuk
    • 2
  1. 1.Fish Ecology and Conservation Physiology Laboratory, Ottawa-Carleton Institute for BiologyCarleton UniversityOttawaCanada
  2. 2.Department of Environmental ConservationUniversity of Massachusetts AmherstAmherstUSA

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