Little is known about the seasonality and distribution of grouper larvae (Serranidae: Epinephelini) in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean off the coast of the southeast United States. Grouper larvae were collected from a transect across the Straits of Florida in 2003 and 2004 and during the Southeast Area Monitoring and Assessment Program spring and fall surveys from 1982 through 2005. Analysis of these larval data provided information on location and timing of spawning, larval distribution patterns, and interannual occurrence for a group of species not easily studied as adults. Our analyses indicated that shelf-edge habitat is important for spawning of many species of grouper-some species for which data were not previously available. Spawning for some species may occur year-round, but two peak seasons are evident: late winter and late summer through early fall. Interannual variability in the use of three important subregions by species or groups of species was partially explained by environmental factors (surface temperature, surface salinity, and water depth). A shift in species dominance over the last three decades from spring-spawned species (most of the commercial species) to fall-spawned species also was documented. The results of these analyses expand our understanding of the basic distribution and spawning patterns of northwest Atlantic grouper species and indicate a need for further examination of the changing population structure of individual species and species dominance in the region.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||20|
|State||Published - Jan 1 2012|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Aquatic Science