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Free Content Reproduction, habitat utilization, and movements of hogfish (Lachnolaimus maximus) in the Florida Keys, U.S.A.: comparisons from fished versus unfished habitats

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Few studies conducted within marine reserves have compared the behavior of exploited reef fishes within protected and fished areas to test the hypotheses that reproductive output, habitat utilization, and fish movements differ between management zones. We conducted 134 hrs of snorkel and scuba surveys in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary in the Western Sambos Ecological Reserve (closed to fishing) and the adjacent Middle Sambos site where fishing is permitted. At these sites we gathered detailed information on microhabitat utilization of hogfish, Lachnolaimus maximus (Walbaum, 1792), their movements, encounter rates, and reproductive behavior. Most of the data were collected with focal animal observations by snorkelers and the behavioral data geographically logged with a hand-held GPS. Multivariate analyses of microhabitats present on home ranges and utilized by hogfish indicate no overall differences between the protected vs fished site, yet at both sites male movements were more widespread than those of females. Despite an extensive survey effort within the fished site, virtually no reproductive activity was observed there, compared with 55 spawning events recorded from six different harems within the reserve. Though not significantly different, underlying trends that we observed for hogfish encounters and movements between study sites are consistent with the idea that key social processes differ between sites. These data suggest a breakdown of social structure at the fished site and highlight the role that marine reserves may play in the maintenance of reproductive output by exploited site-attached fishes with complex social and mating systems.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2010-01-01

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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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