Movescapes and eco-evolutionary movement strategies in marine fish: Assessing a connectivity hotspot

Susan K. Lowerre-Barbieri, Claudia Friess, Lucas P. Griffin, Danielle Morley, Gregory B. Skomal, Joel W. Bickford, Neil Hammerschlag, Mitchell J. Rider, Matthew J. Smukall, Maurits P.M. van Zinnicq Bergmann, Tristan L. Guttridge, Andrea M. Kroetz, R. Dean Grubbs, Carissa L. Gervasi, Jennifer S. Rehage, Gregg R. Poulakis, Kim Bassos-Hull, Jayne M. Gardiner, Grace A. Casselberry, Joy YoungMatt Perkinson, Debra L. Abercrombie, Dustin T. Addis, Barbara A. Block, Alejandro Acosta, Aaron J. Adams, Andy J. Danylchuk, Steven J. Cooke, Frederick G. Whoriskey, Jacob W. Brownscombe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Data from the Integrated Tracking of Aquatic Animals in the Gulf of Mexico (iTAG) network, and sister networks, were used to evaluate fish movements in the Florida Keys—an extensive reef fish ecosystem just north of Cuba connecting the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. We analysed ~2 million detections for 23 species, ranging from reef fish such as Nassau grouper (Epinephelus striatus, Serranidae) to migratory apex predators such as white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias, Lamnidae). To facilitate comparisons across species, we used an eco-evolutionary movement strategy framework that identified measurable movement traits and their proximate and ultimate drivers. Detectability was species-specific and quantified with a detection potential index. Life stages detected in the study area varied by species and residency varied with life stage. Four annual movement types were identified as follows: high site-fidelity residents, range residents, seasonal migrants and general migrants. The endangered smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata, Pristidae), a seasonal migrant, exhibited the greatest within-ecosystem connectivity. Site attachment, stopover and deep-water migration behaviours differed between individuals, species and annual movement types. All apex predators were migratory. General migrants were significantly larger than fish in the other movement types, a life-history and movement trait combination that is common but not exclusive, as many small pelagics also migrate. Most teleosts exhibited movements associated with spawning. As concerns grow over habitat and biodiversity loss, multispecies movescapes, such as presented here, are expected to play an increasingly important role in informing ecosystem-based and non-extractive fisheries management strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1321-1344
Number of pages24
JournalFish and Fisheries
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • acoustic telemetry
  • Florida Keys
  • migration
  • movement ecology
  • network analysis
  • space use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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