Marine Biology

, Volume 161, Issue 9, pp 2155–2166 | Cite as

Sedentary or mobile? Variability in space and depth use of an exploited coral reef fish

  • Leanne M. CurreyEmail author
  • Michelle R. Heupel
  • Colin A. Simpfendorfer
  • Ashley J. Williams
Original Paper


Movement of fishes defines the distribution and abundance of populations and occurs on a range of spatial and temporal scales. To successfully parameterise assessments and design management strategies for exploited fish populations, knowledge and consideration of their movement patterns are essential. Since the efficacy of management approaches vary depending on the sedentary or mobile nature of the target species, presence, space use and depth utilisation were examined to understand the movement patterns of redthroat emperor Lethrinus miniatus. Sixty individuals were monitored for up to 12 months in an acoustic array comprising three coral reefs, and variation in space use and movement patterns was observed among 26 individuals. Half of the individuals were recorded only in proximity of one receiver along the reef edge, while the other half were detected at multiple receivers and used horizontal areas of approximately 4 km2. Periods of non-detection and lower detection frequency at night (χ 1 2  = 342.157, P < 0.001) indicated individuals may move away from the monitored reef edge to the adjacent sandy habitat, but most movements outside the array remain unknown. Long-distance movement was recorded for one individual, recaptured ~160 km from the release location. Generally, no trends in depth use were apparent, L. miniatus inhabited a variety of depths, which were not related to individual size or time of day, yet some effect of month was evident. Variation in movement among adult L. miniatus indicates that while some individuals undergo broader-scale movement, spatial closures that cover individual reefs (>4 km2) could provide protection from fishing for the proportion of the population that displayed high site fidelity and moderate-sized activity spaces (over a period of up to 12 months).


Activity Space Reef Fish Detection Range Reef Slope Marine Reserve 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank the staff and students of the Fishing and Fisheries Research Group for assisting with this project, particularly A. Tobin, F. de Faria, S. Moore, E. Lédée, S. Munroe, V. Udyawer, M. Espinoza and J. Matley. Infrastructure and field support provided by the Australian Animal Tagging and Monitoring System facility of the Integrated Marine Observing System and the Australian Institute of Marine Science was greatly appreciated. Map data was provided by the Commonwealth of Australia (Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority), Google™earth and DigitalGlobe. Funding for this research was provided by the Australian Research Council awarded to M.R.H. Additional research funding was granted to L.M.C. from James Cook University (JCU) School of Earth and Environmental Sciences (SEES). L.M.C. was also supported by an AIMS@JCU Postgraduate Research Scholarship and stipend. We also thank the editor and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments on this manuscript. All research activities were conducted under GBRMPA permit numbers G10/33754.1 and G10/33758.1 and Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry permit number 144482. Treatment of all animals was conducted under ethical guidelines approved by JCU animal ethics number A1566.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leanne M. Currey
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Michelle R. Heupel
    • 2
    • 3
  • Colin A. Simpfendorfer
    • 3
  • Ashley J. Williams
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.AIMS@JCUJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia
  2. 2.Australian Institute of Marine ScienceTownsvilleAustralia
  3. 3.Centre for Sustainable Tropical Fisheries and Aquaculture, School of Earth and Environmental SciencesJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia
  4. 4.Oceanic Fisheries ProgrammeSecretariat of the Pacific CommunityNoumeaNew Caledonia

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