FCE LTER Journal Articles


Going Downriver: Patterns and Cues in Hurricane-Driven Movements of Common Snook in a Subtropical Coastal River


Extreme climate events such as hurricanes can influence the movement and distribution of fish and other aquatic vertebrates. However, our understanding of the scale of movement responses and how they vary across taxa and ecosystems remains incomplete. In this study, we used acoustic telemetry data to investigate the movement patterns of common snook (Centropomus undecimalis) in the Florida Coastal Everglades during Hurricane Irma, which made landfall on the southwest Florida coast as a Category 3 storm on 10 September 2017 after passing in close proximity to our study site. We hypothesized that the hurricane resulted in shifts in distribution and that these movements may have been driven by environmental cues stemming from changes in barometric pressure associated with hurricane conditions, fluctuations in water levels (stage) characterizing altered riverine conditions, or a combination of both hurricane and riverine drivers. The data revealed large-scale movements of common snook in the time period surrounding hurricane passage, with 73% of fish detected moving from the upper river into downriver habitats, and some individuals potentially exiting the river. Furthermore, regression model selection indicated that these movements were correlated to both hurricane and riverine conditions, showing increased common snook movement at higher river stage and lower barometric pressure, and stage explaining a larger proportion of model deviance. Animal movement has widespread and diverse ecological implications, and by better understanding the factors that drive movement, we may anticipate how future extreme climate events could affect fish populations in impact-prone regions.


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-1832229, #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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