The influence of habitat on the size distribution of groupers was examined at sites in the middle and upper Florida Keys. Transects were used to quantify the size distribution of groupers at study sites. There were significant differences in the size distribution of groupers within and among reef community types related to differences in species composition and patch reef size. Groupers with a 'giant' life-history style (Sullivan and de Garine 1994) were more abundant, but smaller, on inshore patch reefs than offshore reef community types. However, grouper species with a 'dwarf' life-history style (Sullivan and de Garine 1994) showed an opposite pattern with n lower abundance, but larger size, inshore than offshore. The length category of groupers constituting the majority of individuals observed on patch reefs was inversely related to reef size. Graysby Epinephelus cruentatus were shown to recruit to deeper (15-20 m), low-relief habitats offshore. Several factors influenced the size distribution of groupers in the study sites including habitat type, spear-fishing, competition, predation, and recruitment.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Aquatic Science