Alternate Title

Recruitment of Juvenile Snapper (Lutjanidae) in the Middle Florida Keys: Temporal Trends and Fine-Scale Habitat Associations

Document Type

Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute Partnership


Juvenile recruitment is a major factor in the establishment and maintenance of local population structures of coral reef fishes. An understanding of the factors that affect juvenile recruitment and survival help explain spatial and temporal patterns in adult abundance, especially of commercially and recreationally fished species. Here, we examined the distribution and juvenile recruitment of 5 snapper species: Mutton Snapper (Lutjanus analis), Lane Snapper (L. synagris), Schoolmaster (L. apodus), Gray Snapper (L. griseus), and Yellowtail Snapper (Ocyurus chrysurus) collected in 1,314 seine samples conducted between 2007 and 2019 in the Middle Florida Keys. We use a generalized linear modeling routine to assess juvenile recruitment of each species as a function of temporal, environmental, and benthic habitat variables. Interannual variability in juvenile recruitment ranged between 2 and 15—fold differences in mean predicted abundance between the highest and lowest producing years by species. Predicted recruitment varied dramatically by species in 2010 following a historic cold spell in south Florida. Three of the 5 species (Lane Snapper, Yellowtail Snapper, and Schoolmaster) exhibited the lowest observed yearly recruitment in that year, while Gray Snapper recruitment peaked. For all species, recruitment indices exhibited strong seasonal trends with peak abundances observed in the fall. Aquatic vegetation type, aquatic vegetation cover, distance from shore, and water temperature were the most important predictors of abundance. Results of this study highlight species—specific preferences for settlement habitat, demonstrate the importance of local—scale recruitment processes, and provide updated, management—relevant juvenile abundance indices for shallow water snapper in the Middle Florida Keys.

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Artificial Intelligence (AI) Use Statement

No artificial intelligence (AI) was used in the preparation of this manuscript