Habitat use by the juvenile dusky grouper Epinephelus marginatus and its relative abundance, in Santa Catarina, Brazil

Leonardo Francisco Machado, Áthila Bertoncini Andrade, Maurício Hostim–Silva and João Pedro Barreiros

aqua, International Journal of Ichthyology, pp. 133-138, Volume 6, Issue 4 – March 2003

The dusky grouper (Epinephelus marginatus) is a species whose stock management deserves special attention. It has an important role in hard-bottom ecosystems and, as a protogynous hermaphrodite; it is especially susceptible to overfishing. Data on the species’ use of habitat, and on the way environmental and behaviour parameters influence its abundance can help to improve management and conservation strategies. The aim of this study was to evaluate the influence of bottom type, temperature and species behaviour on the abundance of E. marginatus, using a quadrat for visual census. An area of 80 mq., divided between rocky shore, rocky outcrop and sandy habitats was surveyed monthly. Densities of juveniles were: 1.16 groupers m-2 over the rocky shore and 1.47 groupers m-2 over the rocky outcrop, while no groupers were found over sand. Analysis of the yearly variation in abundance revealed a migratory pattern of dispersal and gathering. All size groups observed in this study were below the first maturation length.

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