Assessing the suitability of mangrove habitats for juvenile Atlantic goliath grouper

Geoffrey S. Shideler, Skyler R. Sagarese, William J. Harford, Jennifer Schull, Joseph E. Serafy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


While juvenile Atlantic goliath grouper, Epinephelus itajara (Lichtenstein, 1822), are known to depend on mangrove root structure, relationships with water properties (e.g., salinity) and depth remain unclear or understudied. Because availability of suitable mangrove habitat has been suggested as the primary bottleneck to the recovery of this threatened species in the US, we investigated habitat associations of juvenile Atlantic goliath grouper with respect to physical water properties within mangrove habitats. Our study was conducted in six coastal rivers and three canals within the Ten Thousand Islands region of southwest Florida. Results suggested that juvenile Atlantic goliath grouper differed in how they associated with specific mangrove habitats based on season and size. We found that smaller juveniles (<340 mm TL) appeared to have stronger associations to physical water characteristics than larger (≥340 mm TL) juveniles. Both large and small juveniles showed the strongest associations with DO (i.e., >3 mg L−1) within mangrove habitat. For small juveniles, extreme temperatures influenced habitat association; for large juveniles, extreme salinity influenced distribution. We also found evidence that juvenile Atlantic goliath grouper associated more with natural rivers over man-made canals. The present study has utility for delineating suitable mangrove habitats for protection and potentially in the design of sampling surveys that aim to estimate population abundance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2067-2082
Number of pages16
JournalEnvironmental Biology of Fishes
Issue number10
StatePublished - Sep 13 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Goliath grouper
  • Habitat suitability
  • Mangrove habitat
  • Threatened species
  • Water condition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science


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