Journal Article

Ultrasonic tracking reveals multiple behavioural modes of snapper (<i>Pagrus auratus</i>) in a temperate no-take marine reserve

D.P. Egli and R.C. Babcock

in ICES Journal of Marine Science

Published on behalf of ICES/CIEM

Volume 61, issue 7, pages 1137-1143
Published in print January 2004 | ISSN: 1054-3139
Published online January 2004 | e-ISSN: 1095-9289 | DOI:
Ultrasonic tracking reveals multiple behavioural modes of snapper (Pagrus auratus) in a temperate no-take marine reserve

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  • Environmental Science
  • Marine and Estuarine Biology


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Interactions between marine reserve populations and non-reserve populations of exploited fishes have generally been modelled using simplistic assumptions about behaviour. Consequently, there is a recognized need for better information on fish movement behaviour at the appropriate spatial scales to generate more realistic interaction models. Automated ultrasonic tracking of marine fish, applied in this study, offers the potential to continuously track individuals for periods of up to several years within the study area. Snapper (Pagrus auratus) (FL: 33–68 cm) were surgically implanted with individually coded ultrasonic transmitters to monitor their movement within the Cape Rodney to Okakari Point Marine Reserve in northeast New Zealand from October 2001 to September 2002. The range of movement patterns observed includes some fish resident for the entire tracking period, while others were more mobile. Of the latter group, some fish left the array permanently while others returned after up to 83 days of continuous absence. Nearly all fish showed some level of site fidelity for varying periods of the time they were tracked. Fish activity peaked in the summer, when highest densities are known to occur. Results suggest that snapper behaviour is variable, and that patterns of habitat utilization vary between fish and also seasonally. Such a complex range of behaviours may be a key component for achieving desirable outcomes for both conservation and fisheries in marine reserves.

Keywords: acoustic tagging; marine reserve; Pagrus auratus; polymorphic behaviour; residency; snapper movement

Journal Article.  4354 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Environmental Science ; Marine and Estuarine Biology

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