Ocean heat content reveals secrets of Fish Migrations

Jiangang Luo, Jerald S. Ault, Lynn K. Shay, John P. Hoolihan, Eric D. Prince, Craig A. Brown, Jay R. Rooker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


For centuries, the mechanisms surrounding spatially complex animal migrations have intrigued scientists and the public. We present a new methodology using ocean heat content (OHC), a habitat metric that is normally a fundamental part of hurricane intensity forecasting, to estimate movements and migration of satellite-Tagged marine fishes. Previous satellite-Tagging research of fishes using archival depth, temperature and light data for geolocations have been too coarse to resolve detailed ocean habitat utilization. We combined tag data with OHC estimated from ocean circulation and transport models in an optimization framework that substantially improved geolocation accuracy over SST-based tracks. The OHC-based movement track provided the first quantitative evidence that many of the tagged highly migratory fishes displayed affinities for ocean fronts and eddies. The OHC method provides a new quantitative tool for studying dynamic use of ocean habitats, migration processes and responses to environmental changes by fishes, and further, improves ocean animal tracking and extends satellite-based animal tracking data for other potential physical, ecological, and fisheries applications. This is an open access article, free of all copyright, and may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, modified, built upon, or otherwise used by anyone for any lawful purpose. The work is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0141101
JournalPloS one
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 20 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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