Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 78, Issue 4, pp 365–381 | Cite as

Spatial and temporal patterns of movement and migration at spawning aggregations of red hind, Epinephelus guttatus, in the U.S. Virgin Islands

  • Richard S. Nemeth
  • Jeremiah Blondeau
  • Steve Herzlieb
  • Elizabeth Kadison
Original Paper

Abstract

This study compared the spatial and temporal patterns of red hind, Epinephelus guttatus, movement and migration from annual spawning aggregations on St Thomas (STT) and St Croix (STX), United States Virgin Islands. Around STT E. guttatus migrated 6–33 km from a functional spawning migration area of 500 km2 and around STX E. guttatus migrated 5–18 km from an area of 90 km2. Similarities between sites were found in regards to timing of movement, temporal and spatial changes in sex ratios, annual and lunar predictability and were synchronized with environmental cues. E. guttatus spawning aggregations in the Virgin Islands occur between the winter solstice (i.e., after December 20) and about February 20 of any year and show a distinctive peak 20–40 days after the winter solstice. Spawning typically occurred during periods of declining seawater temperature and slacking currents within a temperature range of 26–27.5°C and current speed of 2.5–3.5 cm s−1. Males arrived early to spawning sites and stayed longer than females. These gender-based behavioral patterns are important to E. guttatus reproductive dynamics and must be factored into future studies and the design of fisheries regulations to ensure sustainability of spawning aggregation sites. The predictability of E. guttatus spawning aggregations relative to the winter solstice will be extremely beneficial for defining the temporal and spatial aspects of area closures. The consistency and synchrony of movement and migration will improve both the efficiency of planning research and monitoring programs and directing enforcement activities during critical time periods. Applying this knowledge strategically will maximize the limited resources available for research and enforcement and lead to greater protection of spawning aggregations.

Keywords

Marine protected areas Serranidae Fish tagging Behavior Fisheries management Caribbean 

References

  1. Armstrong RA, Singh H, Torres J, Nemeth RS, Can A, Roman C, Eustice R, Riggs L, Garcia-Moliner G (2006) Characterizing the deep insular shelf coral reef habitat of the Hind Bank marine conservation district (US Virgin Islands) using the Seabed autonomous underwater vehicle. Continental Shelf Res 26:194–205CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bannerot SP, Fox PW, Powers JE (1987) Reproductive strategies and the management of groupers and snappers in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean. In: Polovina JJ, Ralston S (eds) Tropical snappers and groupers: biology and fisheries management. Westview, Boulder, pp 561–606Google Scholar
  3. Beets J, Friedlander A (1992) Stock analysis and management strategies for red hind, Epinephelus guttatus, in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Proc 42nd Gulf Caribb Fish Inst 42:66–79Google Scholar
  4. Beets J, Friedlander A (1999) Evaluation of a conservation strategy: a spawning aggregation closure for red hind, Epinephelus guttatus, in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Environ Biol Fishes 55:91–98CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bolden SK (2000) Long-distance movement of a Nassau grouper (Epinephelus striatus) to a spawning aggregation in the central Bahamas. Fish Bull 98:642–645Google Scholar
  6. Burnett-Herkes J (1975) Contribution to the biology of the red hind, Epinephelus guttatus, a commercially important serranid fish from the tropical western Atlantic. PhD thesis, University of Miami, Coral Gables, 154 ppGoogle Scholar
  7. Carter HJ (1987) Grouper sex in Belize. Nat Hist October:60–69Google Scholar
  8. Coleman FC, Koenig CC, Collins LA (1996) Reproductive styles of shallow-water groupers (Pisces: Serranidae) in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the consequences of fishing spawning aggregations. Environ Biol Fishes 47:129–141CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Coleman FC, Koenig CC, Eklund C, Grimes CB (1999) Management and conservation of temperate reef fishes in the grouper–snapper complex of the Southeastern United States. In: Musick JA (ed), Life in the slow lane: ecology and conservation of long-lived marine animals. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, pp 233–242Google Scholar
  10. Colin PL (1992) Reproduction of the nassau grouper, Epinephelus striatus (Pisces: Serranidae) and its relationship to environmental conditions. Environ Biol Fishes 34:357–377CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Colin PL (1996) Longevity of some coral reef fish spawning aggregations. Copeia 1996:189–192CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Colin PL, Clavijo IE (1978) Mass spawning by the spotted goatfish, Pseudopeneus maculatus (Bloch) (Pisces: Mullidae). Bull Mar Sci 28:780–782Google Scholar
  13. Colin PL, Clavijo IE (1988) Spawning activity of fishes producing pelagic eggs on a shelf edge coral reef, southwestern Puerto Rico. Bull Mar Sci 43:249–279Google Scholar
  14. Colin PL, Shapiro DY, Weiler D (1987) Aspects of the reproduction of two groupers, Epinephelus guttatus and E. striatus, in the West Indies. Bull Mar Sci 40:220–230Google Scholar
  15. Cummings NJ, Parrack ML, Zweifel JW (1997) The status of red hind and coney in the U.S. Virgin Islands between 1974 and 1992. Proc 49th Gulf Caribb Fish Inst 49:354–397Google Scholar
  16. Domeier ML, Colin PL (1997) Tropical reef fish spawning aggregations: defined and reviewed. Bull Mar Sci 60:698–726Google Scholar
  17. Eklund AM, McClennal DB, Harper DE (2000) Black grouper aggregations in relation to protected areas within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Bull Mar Sci 66:721–728Google Scholar
  18. Eristhee N, Kadison E, Murray PA, Llewelyn A (2006) Preliminary investigations into the red hind fishery in the British Virgin Islands. Proc 57th Gulf Caribb Fish Inst 57:373–384Google Scholar
  19. Gilmore RG, Jones RS (1992) Color variation and associated behavior in the Epinepheline groupers, Myceroperca microlepis (Goode and Bam) and M. phenax (Jordan and Swain). Bull Mar Sci 51:84–103Google Scholar
  20. Herzlieb S, Kadison E, Blondeau J, Nemeth RS (2006) Comparative assessment of coral reef systems located along the insular platform of St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands and the relative effects of natural and human impacts. Proc 10th Int Coral Reef Conf 4:1144–1151Google Scholar
  21. Heyman WD, Kjerfve B, Graham RT, Rhodes KL, Garbutt L (2005) Spawning aggregations of Lutjanus cyanopterus (Cuvier) on the Belize Barrier Reef over a 6 year period. J Fish Biol 67:83–101CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Huntsman GR, Potts J, Mays RW, Vaughan DS (1999) Groupers (Serranidae, Epinephelinae): endangered apex predators of reef communities. In: Musick JA (ed), Life in the slow lane. Ecology and conservation of long-lived marine animals. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, pp 217–232Google Scholar
  23. Johannes RE (1988) Spawning aggregation of the grouper, Plectropomus areolatus (Ruppel) in the Solomon Islands. Proc 6th Int Coral Reef Symp 2:751–755Google Scholar
  24. Levin PS, Grimes CB (2002) Reef fish ecology and grouper conservation and management. In: Sale PF (ed), Coral reef fishes. Dynamics and diversity in a complex ecosystem. Academic, London, pp 377–389Google Scholar
  25. Luckhurst BE (1996) Trends in commercial fishery landings of groupers and snappers in Bermuda from 1975 to 1992 and associated fishery management issues. In: Arreguin-Sanchez F, Munro JL, Balgos MC, Pauly D (eds), Biology, fisheries and culture of tropical groupers and snappers. ICLARM, pp 286–297Google Scholar
  26. Luckhurst BE (1998) Site fidelity and return migration of tagged red hinds (Epinephelus guttatus) to a spawning aggregation site in Bermuda. Proc 50th Gulf Caribb Fish Inst 50:750–763Google Scholar
  27. Luckhurst BE, Barnes J, Sadovy Y (1992) Record of an unusually large red hind, Epinephelus guttatus (Serranidae), from Bermuda with comments on its age. Bull Mar Sci 51:267–270Google Scholar
  28. Mackie M (2000) Reproductive biology of the half moon grouper, Epinephelus rivulatus, at Ningaloo reef, Western Australia. Environ Biol Fishes 57:363–376CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Munro JL, Blok L (2003) The status of stocks of groupers and hinds in the Northeastern Caribbean. Proc 56th Gulf Caribb Fish Inst 56:283–294Google Scholar
  30. Munro JL, Gout VC, Thompson R, Reeson P (1973) The spawning season of Caribbean reef fishes. J Fish Biol 5:69–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Nemeth RS (2005) Recovery of a US Virgin Islands red hind spawning aggregation following protection. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 286:81–97Google Scholar
  32. Nemeth RS, Herzlieb S, Blondeau J (2006) Comparison of two seasonal closures for protecting red hind spawning aggregations in the US Virgin Islands. Proc 10th Int Coral Reef Conf 4:1306–1313Google Scholar
  33. NMFS (1999) Our living oceans. Report on the status of U.S. living marine resources, 1999. Department of Commerce, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  34. Olsen DA, LaPlace JA (1978) A study of Virgin Islands grouper fishery based on a breeding aggregation. Proc 31st Gulf Caribb Fish Inst 31:130–144Google Scholar
  35. Pickert P, Kelly T, Nemeth RS, Kadison E (2006) Seas of change: spawning aggregations of the Virgin Islands. In: Pickert P, Kelly T (eds) DVD by Friday’s films, San FranciscoGoogle Scholar
  36. Rand P, Taylor C, Eggleston D (2005) A video method for quantifying size distribution, density and three dimensional spatial structure of reef fish spawning aggregations. Proc Gulf Caribb Fish Inst 56:429–430Google Scholar
  37. Randall JE (1983) Caribbean reef fishes. TFH Publications, Neptune CityGoogle Scholar
  38. Randall JE, Brock VE (1960) Observations on the ecology of Epinepheline and Lutjanid fishes of the Society Islands, with emphasis on food habits. Trans Am Fish Soc 89:9–16CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Randall JE, Randall HA (1963) The spawning and early development of the Atlantic parrot fish, Sparisoma rubripinne, with notes on other scarid and labrid fishes. Zoologica 48:49–60Google Scholar
  40. Rhodes KL, Sadovy Y (2002) Temporal and spatial trends in spawning aggregations of camouflage grouper, Epinephelus polyphekadion, in Pohnpei, Micronesia. Environ Biol Fishes 63:27–39CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Robertson DR (1983) On the spawning behavior and spawning coloration cycles of eight surgeonfishes (Acanthuridae) from the Indo-Pacific. Environ Biol Fishes 9:192–223CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Robertson DR, Hoffman SG (1977) The roles of female mate choice and predation in the mating systems of some tropical Labroid fishes. Z Tierpsychol 45:298–320Google Scholar
  43. Sadovy Y (1994) Grouper stocks of the western Atlantic: the need for management and management needs. Gulf Caribb Fish Inst 43:43–65Google Scholar
  44. Sadovy Y, Domeier M (2005) Are aggregation-fisheries sustainable? Reef fish fisheries as a case study. Coral Reefs 24:254–262CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Sadovy Y, Figuerola M (1992) The status of red hind fishery in Puerto Rico and St. Thomas, as determined by yield-per-recruit analysis. Gulf Caribb Fish Inst 42:23–38Google Scholar
  46. Sadovy Y, Figuerola M, Roman A (1992) Age and growth of red hind Epinephelus guttatus in Puerto Rico and St. Thomas. Fish Bull 90:516–528Google Scholar
  47. Sadovy Y, Colin PL, Domier ML (1994a) Aggregation and spawning in the tiger grouper, Mycteroperca tigris (Pisces: Serranidae). Copeia 2:511–516CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Sadovy Y, Rosario A, Roman A (1994b) Reproduction in an aggregating grouper, the red hind, Epinephelus guttatus. Environ Biol Fishes 41:269–286Google Scholar
  49. Sala E, Ballesteros E, Starr RM (2001) Rapid decline of Nassau grouper spawning aggregations in Belize: fishery management and conservation needs. Fisheries 26:23–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Samoilys MA (1997) Periodicity of spawning aggregations of coral trout (Plectropomous leopardus) on the Great Barrier Reef. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 160:149–159Google Scholar
  51. Shapiro DY (1980) Serial female changes after simultaneous removal of males from social groups of coral reef fish. Science 209:1136–1137CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Shapiro DY (1987a) Differentiation and evolution of sex change in fishes. Bioscience 37:490–497CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Shapiro DY (1987b) Reproduction in groupers. In: Polovina JJ, Ralston S (eds) Tropical snappers and groupers: biology and fisheries management. Westview, Boulder, pp 295–327Google Scholar
  54. Shapiro DY, Sadovy Y, McGehee MA (1993) Size, composition, and spatial structure of the annual spawning aggregation of the red hind, Epinephelus guttatus (Pisces: Serranidae). Copeia 2:399–406CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Smith CL (1971) A revision of the American groupers: Epinephelus and allied genera. Bull Am Mus Nat Hist 146:69–241Google Scholar
  56. Thompson R, Munro JL (1978) Aspects of the biology and ecology of Caribbean reef fishes: Serranidae (hinds and groupers). J Fish Biol 12:115–146CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Thresher RE (1984) Reproduction in reef fishes. TFH Publication, Neptune CityGoogle Scholar
  58. Vincent ACJ, Sadovy Y (1998) Reproductive ecology in the conservation and management of fishes. In: Caro T (ed), Behavioral ecology and conservation biology. Oxford University Press, New York, pp 209–245Google Scholar
  59. Warner RR (1988) Traditionality of mating-site preferences in a coral reef fish. Nature 335:719–721CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Warner RR (1990) Resource assessment versus tradition in mating-site determination. Am Nat 135:205–217CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Warner RR, Swearer SE (1991) Social control of sex change in the bluehead wrasse, Thalassoma bifasciatum (Pisces: Labridae). Biol Bull 181:199–204CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Whiteman EA, Jennings CA, Nemeth RS (2005) Sex structure and potential female fecundity in a red hind (Epinephelus guttatus) spawning aggregation: applying ultrasonic imaging. J Fish Biol 66:983–995CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Zeller DC (1998) Spawning aggregations: patterns of movement of the coral trout Plectropomus leopardus (Serranidae) as determined by ultrasonic telemetry. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 162:253–263Google Scholar
  64. Zeller DC (1999) Ultrasonic telemetry: its application to coral reef fisheries research. Fish Bull 97:1058–1065Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard S. Nemeth
    • 1
  • Jeremiah Blondeau
    • 1
  • Steve Herzlieb
    • 1
  • Elizabeth Kadison
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Marine and Environmental StudiesUniversity of the Virgin IslandsSt ThomasUS Virgin Islands

Personalised recommendations