Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 38, Issue 4, pp 311–319 | Cite as

Habitat selection by juvenile lemon sharks,Negaprion brevirostris

  • John F. Morrissey
  • Samuel H. Gruber


We surgically implanted ultrasonic transmitters in 38 lemon sharks,Negaprion brevirostris, and manually tracked the sharks for 1–153 days. This yielded 2281 positional fixes recorded at 15-min intervals. We used these positional data with availability data of four environmental variables (water depth, temperature, salinity, and bottom type), sampled at 213 stations along 15 transects, to examine usage of habitat. All sharks used contours of water depth, water temperature, and bottom type disproportionately to the availability of these variables in the study site. Specifically, juvenile lemon sharks selected shallower, warmer water with an underlying rocky or sandy substrate, perhaps for predator avoidance. This is the first report on habitat selection by any elasmobranch.

Key words

Optimal foraging Predator avoidance Elasmobranch Ultrasonic transmitters 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References cited

  1. Bathurst, R.G.C. 1967. Oolitic films on low energy carbonate sand grains, Bimini Lagoon, Bahamas. Mar. Geol. 5: 89–109.Google Scholar
  2. Bodurtha, T.S., J.M. Peek & J.L. Lauer. 1989. Mule deer habitat use related to succession in a bunchgrass community. J. Wildl. Manage. 53: 314–319.Google Scholar
  3. Bushnell, P.G., P.L. Lutz & S.H. Gruber. 1989. The metabolic rate of an active, tropical elasmobranch, the lemon shark (Negaprion brevirostris). Exp. Biol. 48: 279–283.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Carey, F.G. & J.V. Scharold. 1990. Movements of blue sharks (Prionace glauca) in depth and course. Mar. Biol. 106: 329–342.Google Scholar
  5. Chapman, C.A. & W.C. MacKay. 1984. Versatility in habitat use by a top aquatic predator,Esox lucius L. J. Fish Biol. 25: 109–115.Google Scholar
  6. Compagno, L.J.V. 1984. FAO species catalogue. Vol. 4, parts 1 and 2: Sharks of the world. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of shark species known to date. FAO Fish. Synopsis 125: 1–655.Google Scholar
  7. Cortes, E. & S.H. Gruber. 1990. Diet, feeding habits, and estimates of daily ration of young lemon sharks,Negaprion brevirostris (Poey). Copeia 1990: 204–218.Google Scholar
  8. Coull, B.C. & J.B.J. Wells. 1983. Refuges from fish predation: experiments with phytal meiofauna from the New Zealand rocky intertidal. Ecology 64: 1599–1609.Google Scholar
  9. Coutant, C.C. & D.S. Carroll. 1980. Temperatures occupied by ten ultrasonic-tagged striped bass in freshwater lakes. Trans. Amer. Fish. Soc. 109: 195–202.Google Scholar
  10. Diana, J.S., W.C. Mackay & M. Ehrman. 1977. Movements and habitat preference of northern pike (Esox lucius) in Lac Ste. Anne, Alberta. Trans. Amer. Fish. Soc. 106: 560–565.Google Scholar
  11. Fraser, D.F. & R.D. Cerri. 1982. Experimental evaluation of predator-prey relationships in a patchy environment: consequences for habitat use patterns in minnows. Ecology 63: 307–313.Google Scholar
  12. Goodyear, C.P. 1973. Learned orientation in the predator avoidance behavior of mosquitofish,Gambusia affinis. Behav. 45: 191–224.Google Scholar
  13. Gotceitas, V. & P. Colgan. 1990. The effects of prey availability and predator risk of habitat selection by juvenile bluegill sunfish. Copeia 1990: 409–417.Google Scholar
  14. Gray, R.H. & J.M. Haynes. 1977. Depth distribution of adult chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) in relation to season and gas-supersaturated water. Trans. Amer. Fish. Soc. 106: 617–620.Google Scholar
  15. Greenbert, L.A. & D.A. Holtzman. 1987. Microhabitat utilization, feeding periodicity, home range and population size of the banded sculpin,Cottus carolinae. Copeia 1987: 19–25.Google Scholar
  16. Gruber, S.H., D.R. Nelson & J.F. Morrissey. 1988. Patterns of activity and space utilization of lemon sharks,Negaprion brevirostris, in a shallow Bahamian lagoon. Bull. Mar. Sci. 43: 61–76.Google Scholar
  17. Hammond, K.A., J.R. Spotilla & E.A. Standora. 1988. Basking behavior of the turtlePseudemys scripta: effects of digestive state, acclimation temperature, sex, and season. Physiol. Zool. 61: 69–77.Google Scholar
  18. Harlin, M.N. 1980. Seagrass epiphytes. pp. 117–152.In: R.C. Phillips & C.P. McRoy(ed.) Handbook of Seagrass Biology, An Ecosystem Perspective, Garland STPM Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  19. Harvey, J.T. 1989. Food habits, seasonal abundance, size, and sex of the blue shark,Prionace glauca, in Monterey Bay, California. Calif. Fish and Game 75: 33–44.Google Scholar
  20. Heck, K.L. Jr. 1977. Comparative species richness, composition, and abundance of invertebrates in Caribbean seagrass (Thalassia testudinum) meadows (Panama). Mar. Biol. 42: 335–348.Google Scholar
  21. Hershey, A.E. 1985. Effects of predatory sculpin on the chironomid communities in an arctic lake. Ecology 66: 1131–1138.Google Scholar
  22. Hoese, H.D. & R.H. Moore. 1977. Fishes of the Gulf of Mexico. Texas A & M Univ. Press, College Station. 327 pp.Google Scholar
  23. Holomuzki, J.R. 1986. Predator avoidance and diel patterns of microhabitat use by larval tiger salamanders. Ecology 67: 737–748.Google Scholar
  24. Holomuzki, J.R. & T.M. Short. 1988. Habitat use and fish avoidance behaviors by the stream-dwelling isopodLirceus fontinalis. Oikos 52: 79–86.Google Scholar
  25. Hutton, J. 1989. Movements, home range, dispersal and the separation of size classes in Nile crocodiles. Amer. Zool. 29: 1033–1049Google Scholar
  26. Ireland, L.C. & J.W. Kanwisher. 1978. Underwater acoustic biotelemetry: procedures for obtaining information on the behavior and physiology of free-swimming aquatic animals in their natural environments. pp. 341–379.In: D.I. Mostofsky(ed.) The Behavior of Fish and Other Aquatic Animals, Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar
  27. Itzkowitz, M. 1991. Habitat selection and subsequent reproductive success in the beaugregory damselfish. Env. Biol. Fish. 30: 287–293.Google Scholar
  28. Jacobsen, T. 1987. An ecosystem-level study of a shallow, subtropical, marine lagoon, North Sound, Bimini, Bahamas. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Georgia, Athens. 186 pp.Google Scholar
  29. Kaehler, S. & R.G. Hughes. 1992. The distributions and growth patterns of three epiphytic hydroids on the Caribbean seagrassThalassia testudinum. Bull. Mar. Sci. 51: 329–336.Google Scholar
  30. Knight, T.W., J.A. Layfield & R.J. Brooks. 1990. Nutritional status and mean selected temperature of hatchling snapping turtles (Chelydra serpentina): is there a thermophilic response to feeding? Copeia 1990: 1067–1072.Google Scholar
  31. Lang, J.W. 1981. Thermal preferences of hatchling New Guinea crocodiles: effects of feeding and ontogeny. J. Therm. Biol. 6: 73–78.Google Scholar
  32. Lysenko, S. & J.E. Gillis. 1980. The effect of ingestive status on the thermoregulatory behavior ofThamnophis sirtalis sirtalis andThamnophis sirtalis parietalis. J. Herpetol. 14: 155–159.Google Scholar
  33. Matthews, K.R. 1990. An experimental study of the habitat preferences and movement patterns of copper, quillback, and brown rockfishes (Sebastes spp.). Env. Biol. Fish. 29: 161–178.Google Scholar
  34. McRoy, C.P. & C. Helfferich. 1977. Seagrass ecosystems. Marcel Dekker, Inc., New York. 314 pp.Google Scholar
  35. Mech, D.L. 1983. Handbook of animal radio-tracking. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis. 107 pp.Google Scholar
  36. Mesing, C.L. & A.M. Wicker. 1986. Home range, spawning migrations, and homing of radio-tagged Florida largemouth bass in two central Florida lakes. Trans. Amer. Fish. Soc. 115: 286–295.Google Scholar
  37. Mittelbach, G. 1986. Predator-mediated habitat use: some consequences for species interactions. Env. Biol. Fish. 16: 159–169.Google Scholar
  38. Morrissey, J.F. 1991. Activity space parameters, home range, diel activity rhythms, and habitat selection of juvenile lemon sharks,Negaprion brevirostris (Poey). Ph.D. Thesis, University of Miami, Miami. 141 pp.Google Scholar
  39. Morrissey, J.E. & S.H. Gruber. 1993. Home range of juvenile lemon sharks,Negaprion brevirostris. Copeia 1993: 425–434.Google Scholar
  40. Multer, H.G. 1969. Field guide to some carbonate rock environments. Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co., Dubuque. 391 pp.Google Scholar
  41. Nelson, D.R. 1990. Telemetry studies of sharks: a review, with applications in resource management. pp. 239–256.In: H.L. Pratt Jr., S.H. Gruber & T Taniuchi (ed.) Elasmobranchs as Living Resources: Advances in the Biology, Ecology, Systematics, and the Status of the Fisheries, Proc. 2nd US-Japan workshop, NOAA Tech. Rep. NMFS 90.Google Scholar
  42. Neu, C.W., C.R. Byers & J.M. Peek. 1974. A technique for analysis of utilization — availability data. J. Wildl. Manage. 38: 541–545.Google Scholar
  43. Newell, N.D. & J. Imbrie. 1955. Biogeological reconnaissance in the Bimini area, Great Bahama Bank. Trans. NY Acad. Sci., Ser. II 18: 3–14.Google Scholar
  44. Newell, N.D., J. Imbrie, E.G. Purdy & D.L. Thurber. 1959. Organism communities and bottom facies, Great Bahama Bank. Bull. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist. 117: 181–228.Google Scholar
  45. Novick, H.J. & G.R. Stewart. 1982. Home range and habitat preferences of black bears in the San Bernadino Mountains of southern California. Calif. Fish and Game 67: 21–35.Google Scholar
  46. Power, M.E. 1984. Depth distributions of armored catfish: predator-induced resource avoidance? Ecology 65: 523–528.Google Scholar
  47. Power, M.E. 1987. Predator avoidance by grazing fishes in temperate and tropical streams: importance of stream depth and prey size. pp. 333–351.In: W.C. Kerfoot & A. Sih(ed.) Predation: Direct and Indirect Impacts on Aquatic Communities. University Press of New England, Hanover.Google Scholar
  48. Power, M.E., W.J. Matthews & A.J. Stewart. 1985. Grazing minnows, piscivorous bass, and stream algae: dynamics of a strong interaction. Ecology 66: 1448–1456.Google Scholar
  49. Reeve, N.J. 1982. The home range of the hedgehog as revealed by a radio tracking study. Symp. Zool. Soc. Lord. 49: 207–230.Google Scholar
  50. Richards, R.A. 1992. Habitat selection and predator avoidance: ontogenetic shifts in habitat use by the Jonah crabCancer borealis (Stimpson). J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 156: 187–197.Google Scholar
  51. Savino, J.F. & R.A. Stein. 1989. Behavior of fish predators and their prey: habitat choice between open water and dense vegetation. Env. Biol. Fish. 24: 287–293.Google Scholar
  52. Schmidt, T.W. 1986. Food of young juvenile lemon sharks,Negaprion brevirostris (Poey), near Sandy Key, western Florida Bay Florida Sci. 49: 7–10.Google Scholar
  53. Sih, A. 1980. Optimal behavior: can foragers balance two conflicting demands? Science 210: 1041–1043.Google Scholar
  54. Stamps, J.A. 1983. The relationship between ontogenetic shifts, competition, and predator avoidance in a juvenile lizard (Anolis aeneus). Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 12: 19–33.Google Scholar
  55. Strauss, R.E. 1979. Reliability for estimates for Ivlev's electivity index, the forage ratio, and a proposed linear index of food selection. Trans. Amer. Fish. Soc. 108: 344–352.Google Scholar
  56. Stein, R.A. 1978. Behavioral response of prey to fish predators. pp. 343–353.In: R.H. Stroud & H. Clipper(ed.) Predator-Prey Systems in Fisheries Management. Sport Fishing Institute, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  57. Supko, P.R., D. Marszalek & W. Bock. 1970. Sedimentary environments and carbonate rocks of Bimini, Bahamas. Miami Geological Society, Miami. 30 pp.Google Scholar
  58. Thayer, G.W., D.R. Colby & W.F. Hettler Jr. 1987. Utilization of the red mangrove prop roots habitat by fishes in south Florida. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 35: 25–38.Google Scholar
  59. Thomas, D.L. & E.J. Taylor. 1990. Study designs and tests for comparing resource use and availability. J. Wildl. Manage. 54: 322–330.Google Scholar
  60. Todd, B.L. & C.F. Rabeni. 1989. Movement and habitat use by stream-dwelling smallmouth bass. Trans. Amer. Fish. Soc. 118: 229–242.Google Scholar
  61. Turekian, K.H. 1957. Salinity variations in sea water in the vicinity of Bimini, Bahamas, British West Indies. Amer. Mus. Novit. 1822: 1–12.Google Scholar
  62. van der Elst, R. 1979. A proliferation of small sharks in the shore-based Natal sport fishery. Env. Biol. Fish. 4: 349–362.Google Scholar
  63. Vorenberg, M.M. 1962. Cannibalistic tendencies of lemon and bull sharks. Copeia 1962: 455–458.Google Scholar
  64. Voss, G.L. & N.A. Voss. 1960. An ecological survey of the marine in vertebrates of Bimini, Bahamas, with a consideration of their zoogeographical relationships. Bull. Mar. Sci. 10: 96–116.Google Scholar
  65. Walls, M., I. Kortelainen & J. Sarvala. 1990. Prey responses to fish predation in freshwater communities. Ann. Zool. Fennici 27: 183–199.Google Scholar
  66. Werner, E.E., J.F. Gilliam, D.J. Hall & G.G. Mittelbach. 1983. An experimental test of the effects of predation risk on habitat use in fish. Ecology 64: 1540–1548.Google Scholar
  67. Whitten, G.J. & H. Heatwole. 1978. Preferred temperature of the agamid lizardAmphiboluris nobbi nobbi. Copeia 1978: 362–364.Google Scholar
  68. Winter, J.D. & M.J. Ross. 1981. Methods in analyzing fish habitat utilization. pp. 273–279.In: N.B. Armantrout(ed.) Acquisition and Utilization of Aquatic Habitat Inventory Information, Proc. of a Symposium, American Fisheries Society, Bethesda.Google Scholar
  69. Wolcott, T.G. & A.H. Hines. 1990. Ultrasonic telemetry of small-scale movements and microhabitat selection by molting blue crabs (Callinectes sapidus). Bull. Mar. Sci. 46: 83–94.Google Scholar
  70. Yano, K. & S. Tanaka. 1986. A telemetric study of the movements of the deep sea squaloid shark,Centrophorus acus. pp. 372–380.In: T. Uyeno, R. Arai, T. Taniuchi & K. Matsuura(ed.) Indo-Pacific Fish Biology: Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Indo-Pacific Fishes, Ichthyological Society of Japan, Tokyo.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • John F. Morrissey
    • 1
  • Samuel H. Gruber
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Marine Biology and FisheriesRosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric ScienceMiamiUSA

Personalised recommendations