Home range and spawning migration patterns of queen triggerfish Balistes vetula in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands

David R. Bryan, Michael W. Feeley, Richard S. Nemeth, Clayton Pollock, Jerald S. Ault

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Queen triggerfish Balistes vetula are an ecologically and economically important species associated with coral reefs throughout the tropical Atlantic Ocean. To better understand spatial and temporal movement patterns and help determine the effectiveness of a no-take marine reserve (Buck Island Reef National Monument, BIRNM), 55 queen triggerfish were surgically implanted with acoustic transmitters and tracked for 434.6 ± 27.3 d (mean ± SE) within a large acoustic array in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands. Queen triggerfish displayed high site fidelity within the reserve during non-spawning months. Home range sizes, as measured by 95% minimum convex polygons and kernel utilization distributions, averaged 2.44 ± 0.30 and 3.34 ± 0.17 km2, respectively. High site fidelity was interrupted briefly during full moons from November to March (2015–2017), when 22% of the tagged population (n = 12) undertook repeated migrations to a nesting area located approximately 12 km from BIRNM. During the same-season spawning periods, 5 other fish were exclusively detected at a receiver station within the reserve, indicating a possible local nesting area and resident (non-migratory) contingent of queen triggerfish. The high site fidelity of queen triggerfish during non-spawning months coupled with the discovery of a resident spawning population highlights the importance of BIRNM as a potential refuge from local fishing pressures. This study provides improved understanding of queen triggerfish movement ecology, an extremely valuable asset for the development of spatial management strategies throughout their range.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-139
Number of pages17
JournalMarine Ecology Progress Series
StatePublished - 2019


  • Movement ecology · Marine reserves · Partial migration · Fisheries management · Acoustic telemetry · Balistidae · Spawning aggregation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology


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