Extreme climate events such as hurricanes can influence the movement and distribution of fish and other aquatic vertebrates. However, our understanding of the scale of movement responses and how they vary across taxa and ecosystems remains incomplete. In this study, we used acoustic telemetry data to investigate the movement patterns of common snook (Centropomus undecimalis) in the Florida Coastal Everglades during Hurricane Irma, which made landfall on the southwest Florida coast as a Category 3 storm on 10 September 2017 after passing in close proximity to our study site. We hypothesized that the hurricane resulted in shifts in distribution and that these movements may have been driven by environmental cues stemming from changes in barometric pressure associated with hurricane conditions, fluctuations in water levels (stage) characterizing altered riverine conditions, or a combination of both hurricane and riverine drivers. The data revealed large-scale movements of common snook in the time period surrounding hurricane passage, with 73% of fish detected moving from the upper river into downriver habitats, and some individuals potentially exiting the river. Furthermore, regression model selection indicated that these movements were correlated to both hurricane and riverine conditions, showing increased common snook movement at higher river stage and lower barometric pressure, and stage explaining a larger proportion of model deviance. Animal movement has widespread and diverse ecological implications, and by better understanding the factors that drive movement, we may anticipate how future extreme climate events could affect fish populations in impact-prone regions.
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We thank our collaborators at Everglades National Park, Florida International University, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), for their ongoing support of our research, along with the contributions of P. O’Donnell at the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in providing acoustic detection data shedding light on snook movement outside of the Shark River. We express our gratitude to P. Stevens, A. Trotter, D. Ho, J. Trexler, J. Nelson, R. James, and V. Paz, for their participation in discussions that helped shaped the questions investigated herein. We also thank J. Kominoski, S. Krishnan, M. Vilchez, and two anonymous reviewers for their feedback and thoughtful comments during the writing of this manuscript. This is contribution #147 from the Center for Coastal Oceans Research and #914 from the Southeast Environmental Research Center in the Institute of Water and Environment at Florida International University.
The authors would like to acknowledge their funders at the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers under Cooperative Agreement #W912HZ-12-2-0015 and the National Science Foundation through the Florida Coastal Everglades Long Term Ecological Research program under Grant #DEB-1237517. The contributions of H. Willoughby and J. Hernandez were supported by the National Science Foundation Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences under Grant #1724198.
Communicated by Mark S. Peterson
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Massie, J.A., Strickland, B.A., Santos, R.O. et al. Going Downriver: Patterns and Cues in Hurricane-Driven Movements of Common Snook in a Subtropical Coastal River. Estuaries and Coasts 43, 1158–1173 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12237-019-00617-y
- Extreme climate events
- Common snook
- Centropomus undecimalis
- Animal movement
- Acoustic telemetry