Migration and Habitat Use

In marine ecosystems, dense aggregations of large predators (e.g., schools of fish, pods of marine mammals) move along coastlines and estuaries, circumnavigate large ocean gyres, and perform pole-ward seasonal movements. These large-scale movements serve multiple species-specific functions, but generally enhance fitness through foraging or reproductive opportunities. While understanding the migratory behavior and connectivity of these species is a central aim in conservation ecology and species management, this has often been a fleeting goal due to the highly mobile nature of these species. 

  A large school of cownose rays moving along the shoals of coastal Alabama (ca. May 2010, Y. Hintz)

A large school of cownose rays moving along the shoals of coastal Alabama (ca. May 2010, Y. Hintz)

Our group utilizes multiple types of biotelemetry technology (acoustic and satellite) to document migrations and overall movement patterns for a suite of fish species. Some of the questions we are investigating include:

  1. What triggers migration and movement patterns in fishes?
  2. What are the range of habitats that fish can connect through their movement?
  3. What is the role of habitat quality and/or quantity in preferences?