A Meta-Analytical Review of the Effects of Environmental and Ecological Drivers On the Abundance of Red Snapper (Lutjanus campechanus) In the U.S. Gulf of Mexico

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Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory


Ocean Science and Engineering


We conducted a meta-analysis to summarize current knowledge on the effects of environmental and ecological drivers on the abundance of red snapper (Lutjanus campechanus) within the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. We reviewed 1252 published research articles and extracted or calculated effect sizes for 12 drivers from 82 independent studies within 26 articles that met our inclusion criteria. We used a fixed-effect model to calculate the absolute value of the mean effect size of each driver by age class studied and pooled across age classes to estimate effects on the overall abundance of red snapper. Habitat complexity and intra-specific competition had large effects on overall abundance and juvenile abundance, while habitat type and protection from predators showed medium to large effects on age 0 recruits and juvenile red snapper, and the mean effect of all drivers studied for adult red snapper were small or had no effect on abundance. Our results provide systematic support for the role of density-dependent mechanisms (habitat quality and availability, competition, predation) in shaping the regional abundance of red snapper, particularly during the juvenile stages. Sensitivity analyses indicated that issues with non-independence (e.g. within-article correlation), between-study heterogeneity, and publication bias influenced the magnitude and certainty of effect size estimates in a subset of drivers. Thus, our meta-analytical review also highlights the need for more empirical research on certain drivers (e.g. temperature, hypoxia) to improve our understanding of the factors that shape the regional abundance of red snapper.

Publication Title

Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries

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