Temporal and Spatial Variation in Habitat Characteristics of Tilefish (Lopholatilus Chamaeleonticeps) off the East Coast of Florida
The tilefish, Lopholatilus chamaeleonticeps, constructs burrows in carbonate sediments off the central east coast of Florida at similar temperatures (8.6–15.4°C) and in similar sediment textures (high proportion of silts and clays) to conspecifics in the Mid-Atlantic Bight. The depths at which we observed tile fish off Florida (150–290 m), based on submersible observations and sidescan sonar operations during 1983 and 1984, were similar to those recorded in 1975–1977 (137–266 m) before the inception of the directed fishery. Both are similar to the range observed in the Mid-Atlantic Bight although tilefish there can be found at shallower and slightly deeper depths (80–305 m). The largest burrows off Florida (1.5–m diameter) were smaller than those observed in the Mid-Atlantic Bight (up to 5 m). The behavior of tile fish around the burrow and the invertebrates and fishes co-inhabiting the burrows off Florida are nearly identical to those in the Mid-Atlantic Bight. Despite the relatively narrow annual temperature range observed off Florida, abrupt changes in temperatures (+6°C) occurred over a 48-h period based on thermograph records. Our observations, and those of others from several areas along the U.S. east coast, suggest that this species probably constructs burrows throughout its geographic range, and that temperature and sediment composition largely determine its distribution. Exclusion experiments off Florida, along with prior removal experiments in the Mid-Atlantic Bight, indicate that tilefish construct and maintain the burrows.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 01 November 1993
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