Contrasting Fine-Scale Habitat Use and Population Connectivity of Red Drum in the Northwestern Gulf of Mexico

Thursday, September 12, 2013: 9:00 AM
Manning (The Marriott Little Rock)
Gregory W. Stunz , Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Corpus Christi, TX
Tom Minello , Southeast Fisheries Science Center, NMFS, Galveston, TX
Phillip S. Levin , Conservation Biology Division, NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center, Seattle, WA
Jay R. Rooker , Department of Marine Biology, Texas A&M University at Galveston, Galveston, TX
A number of scientists have contributed to the substantial knowledge base of red drum habitat use and connectivity in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico. This presentation will summarize some of our key findings and ongoing studies.  Our early work documented the value of seagrasses to new recruits, but in areas absent of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV), intertidal marsh was just as important.  A variety of selection and field growth studies showed the value of a variety of structured estuarine habitat types for red drum.  However, these patterns were not as apparent for hatchery-reared fish.  Recently, stable isotopes in otoliths were used to assess connectivity between early life (estuarine) and adult (coastal) habitat use.  Results from this study show some level of mixings occurs along the coast of Texas, but the majority of adults in spawning aggregations are produced from nurseries in the same region or in close proximity, suggestive of natal homing to specific estuarine corridors.  Recently, more fine-scale studies are underway using acoustic telemetry to examine how larger young-of-the-year red drum use these estuarine habitats over larger temporal and spatial scales before joining spawning stocks in the Gulf of Mexico.