Fine-scale movements, site fidelity and habitat use of an estuarine dependent sparid
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Space use and movement patterns are largely influenced by an animal’s size, habitat connectivity, reproductive mode, and foraging behaviours; and are important in defining the broader population biology and ecology of an organism. Acoustic telemetry was used to investigate the home range, habitat use and relative movement patterns of an estuarine dependant sparid (Acanthopagrus australis, Günther). Ten fish were internally tagged with acoustic transmitters and manually tracked in a riverine estuary for four, 3-day periods. Positional data was converted into a relative index of fish movement (Minimum Activity Index, MAI), and also used to estimate kernel density distributions which approximated areas of core and total space use for each fish. Space use for A. australis was not related to fish size; although movement of each fish (MAI) increased with fish length and a reduction in water conductivity. The distance between tagged fish and mangrove habitat was correlated with time-of-day and tide level with yellowfin bream moving closer to mangroves during the daytime and on high tides. Fish movements, residency and site fidelity revealed the nature of decision-making for fish, and the conservation value of small patches of estuarine habitats.
KeywordsFish ecology Movements Foraging Site fidelity Estuary Mangrove Acoustic telemetry
We wish to thank all volunteers for assistance with fieldwork, particularly B. Harris, T. Marzullo, A. Pursche, G. Cadiou, C. Foster-Thorpe, A. Van-Neer and C. Setio. The authors wish to acknowledge the Australian Research Council and the NSW Recreational Fishing Saltwater Trust for providing resources for this project. Research was permitted under University of NSW Animal Research Permit 10/15B.
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