Fall 2015

Document Type

Master's Thesis (Open Access)

Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)


Science & Environmental Policy


The concept of habitat use is common throughout the ecological literature and is measured through both time (site fidelity) and space (home range). For marine fishes we have expectations for habitat use that have been developed through isolated studies of a small number of species. Using the tools of a meta-analysis we tested these expectations by combining acoustic telemetry data from 48 different marine fish species. In addition we used this large dataset to identify physiologic, life history, and environmental variables that influenced patterns in habitat use through model selection using Akaike’s information criterion (AIC). Results indicate that 40% of tagged fishes exhibited high site fidelity (residents≥ 90% of time), residency of the other 60% varied significantly (p-value < 0.05), contrary to expectations for resident fishes. AIC results for site fidelity indicated that genus and species were not good predictors of site fidelity – length, temperature, and feeding behavior metrics are better predictors. The expectation that home range increases with body size was also not supported. A regression of home range size vs. length resulted in a slope that was nearly flat. Instead, home range size varied by species rather than body size (ANOVA p-value < 0.05). The AIC results for home range indicate reproductive mode, feeding strategy, and habitat measures are more predictive of habitat use. This study highlights the importance of looking across species when developing movement expectations and the importance of life history in determining fish behavior. This work also identifies data gaps within telemetry research and provides recommendations for increased coordination in research efforts to allow for future cross-species meta-analysis.