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Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Publication Date



Endangered Species Research



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The humphead wrasse Cheilinus undulatus is an iconic, ecologically important and Endangered fish species associated with coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific region. Due to its large size and complex life history characteristics, it is vulnerable to overfishing and has undergone substantial population declines in parts of its range. Knowledge of the species’ movement ecology is currently limited to only 2 previous studies, and very little is known about populations in the western Indian Ocean. The present study aimed to use passive acoustic telemetry to investigate the importance of a remote coral reef to a population of humphead wrasse in the Republic of Seychelles, and subsequently assess the efficacy of a proposed marine protected area at this location for protection of the species. Tagged fish (n = 20) exhibited persistent (>500 d) site fidelity, with low dispersal distances (mean ± SD: 6.44 ± 4.0 km) and restricted core activity spaces (50% Brownian bridge kernel utilization density: 0.91 ± 0.61 km2). Additionally, the study site was home to a group of large (total length 97.9 ± 20.6 cm) and currently unexploited humphead wrasse that showed long-term predictable site fidelity and thus could be vulnerable to over-exploitation. The establishment of a proposed no-take marine protected area at the study site would encompass the core home range area of all tagged humphead wrasse and could effectively conserve this stronghold of Endangered fish to ensure the persistence of the species in Seychelles waters.


doi: 10.3354/esr01035


Humphead wrasse · Cheilinus undulatus · Home range · Spatial ecology · Coral reef · Marine protected area · Acoustic telemetry

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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