Studying and Monitoring Aggregating Species

  • Patrick L. Colin
Part of the Fish & Fisheries Series book series (FIFI, volume 35)


The scientific study and monitoring of spawning aggregations requires field and laboratory work using a wide variety of physical and biological methods; but field work, no matter the technological tools available, will remain of fundamental importance in studying aggregations particularly for future comparison. Methods are becoming increasingly standardized allowing for meaningful comparison between sites, times and species. Methods can be fishery-dependent (gathering data from captured fishes) or -independent (observational, instrumental physical, interview data) within the subject areas of aggregation (1) discovery, (2) composition, (3) dynamics, (4) life history parameters and (5) physical parameters. Methods for each are summarized with selected subjects explored in more detail. Particularly problematic areas for data gathering have been fishery-independent determination of numbers and/or sizes of fishes and their distribution within aggregations and the larger environment. GPS based methods of mapping aggregation location, extent and fish density provide discrete snapshots of an aggregation, allowing visualization of dynamics over days to years and are repeatable any time in the future by others. Digital imaging (still and video) allows documentation previously impossible. Acoustic tagging, particularly alongside conventional tagging, allows delineating spatial and temporal aspects of aggregations. Hydroacoustic surveys are promising, but require validation of data on species present, fish numbers and their sizes. Aggregation sites should be instrumented to record physical data (e.g. temperature, currents, light) ideally year round, rather than just during aggregation, to allow comparison of aggregation periods with the entire year, and non-aggregation sites also evaluated for comparison Detailed bathymetric mapping of sites is important and feasible and allows visualization of geomorphology in relation to aggregations.


Global Position System Reef Fish Global Position System Receiver Shelf Edge Aggregation Area 
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.



Numerous colleagues; particularly Michael Domeier, Terry Donaldson, Yvonne Sadovy, assisted with field work that allowed development and testing of methods described here. Support for field work was provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (USA) (for humphead wrasse), and other funders. My co-workers at the Coral Reef Research Foundation, Koror, Palau have greatly assisted this work, with particular support coming from Lori JB Colin. The Palau Conservation Society has worked with me to utilize and improve some of the techniques described, with special thanks to Asap Bukurrou and Scott Keifer. The Palau National Government and Koror State Government have graciously permitted this work to occur in their waters.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Coral Reef Research FoundationKororPalau

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