Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Measuring niche overlap between co-occurring Plectropomus spp. using acoustic telemetry and stable isotopes

J. K. Matley A D , M. R. Heupel A B , A. T. Fisk C , C. A. Simpfendorfer A and A. J. Tobin A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Centre for Sustainable Tropical Fisheries and Aquaculture & College of Science and Engineering, James Cook University, Building 34, 1 James Cook University Drive, Townsville, Qld 4811, Australia.

B Australian Institute of Marine Science, PMB 3, 1526 Cape Cleveland Road, Cape Cleveland, Qld 4810, Australia.

C Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research, University of Windsor, 401 Sunset Avenue, Windsor, ON, N9B 3P4, Canada.

D Corresponding author. Email: jordan.matley@my.jcu.edu.au

Marine and Freshwater Research 68(8) 1468-1478 https://doi.org/10.1071/MF16120
Submitted: 8 April 2016  Accepted: 22 September 2016   Published: 10 November 2016

Abstract

Investigating niche overlap in exploited fish species can reveal behavioural information necessary to improve conservation and fisheries management at a species level. The present study examined spatial and dietary overlap between two co-occurring reef fish, namely Plectropomus leopardus and P. maculatus, at an inshore reef in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park using acoustic telemetry and stable isotopes. Movements of tagged fish within an acoustic array of 19 receivers deployed along a narrow reef portion of Orpheus Island were monitored for up to 3 years. Although space use was similar between species, spatial overlap was rare and P. maculatus (n = 30) was consistently deeper than P. leopardus (n = 32). Dietary overlap between species was high based on overlapping δ15N and δ13C isotopic niches in muscle tissue (n = 20). The complementary stable isotope and acoustic telemetry data revealed these species had similar isotopic niches but distinct space use patterns, which may be a product of competition for resources. These findings show species-specific behaviours within a genus commonly managed or reported as a single entity, and provide new information on partitioning of resources by Plectropomus spp. in inshore reef environments.

Additional keywords: conservation, coral reefs, ecology, fisheries, Great Barrier Reef.


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