FCE LTER Journal Articles


For species that are closely managed, understanding population resilience to environmental and anthropogenic disturbances (i.e., recovery trajectories across broad spatial areas) can guide which suite of management actions are available to mitigate any impacts. During January 2010, an extreme cold event in south Florida caused widespread mortality of common snook, Centropomus undecimalis, a popular sport fish. Interpretation of trends using fishery-independent monitoring data in five south Florida estuaries showed that changes in catch rates of adult snook (>500 mm standard length) varied between no effects postevent to large effects and 4-yr recoveries. The reasons for the variation across estuaries are unknown, but are likely related to differences in estuary geomorphology and habitat availability (e.g., extent of deep rivers and canals) and differences in the proportions of behavior contingents (i.e., segments of the population that use divergent movement tactics) that place snook in different areas of the estuary during winter. Emerging awareness of the presence of behavior contingents, identification of overwintering sites, and improvements of abundance indices in remote nursery habitats should provide a better understanding of population resilience to disturbance events for snook. Given that changes in the frequency of short-lived, severe cold events are currently unknown, the findings and management actions described here for a tropical species living at the edge of its distribution should be useful to scientists forecasting the effects of climate change.


© 2016 Stevens et al. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

DOI: 10.1002/ecs2.1400

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation through the Florida Coastal Everglades Long-Term Ecological Research program under Cooperative Agreements #DEB-1237517, #DBI-0620409, and #DEB-9910514. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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