Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Biological Sciences


Biological Sciences


Royden Nakamura


Worldwide fisheries decline has spurred the utilization of new conservation and management approaches, including the implementation of marine reserves. The diversity of goals and expected outcomes should guide the marine reserve design process, coupled with a thorough understanding of the ecology of all species targeted for protection. Central California’s network of coastal marine protected areas (MPAs) was established in an environment of some uncertainty regarding the expected outcomes for temperate nearshore fish species, especially the Sebastes genus (rockfishes). Movement behavior of temperate reef-fishes plays an important role in the level of protection that a reserve will afford a species. Consistent small-scale movements (<10 km) and limited home range sizes decrease the likelihood that individuals will encounter fishing mortality. Conversely, large-scale movements outside of reserve boundaries may contribute to fisheries in surrounding waters (‘spillover’).

The current study sought to further elucidate the movement behavior of some shallow-water temperate reef fish species throughout California’s central coast, with goals of providing useful data for future MPA design processes. Tag-and-recapture methodology was utilized in order to observe fish movements, centered on a public participation program for acquiring information on recaptured tagged fishes. A total of 476 fishes representing 14 species were recaptured from a sample of 37,111 tagged (1.3%) over a five-year period spanning 2005-2009. The majority (75%) of distances traveled were less than one kilometer, however some species made consistent far-ranging travels on the order of hundreds of kilometers as well. Analyses of factors with potential for shaping movement behavior included geographic variation, source of recapture data, gear type, days at liberty, length, initial capture depth, handling condition, and fish density. Additionally, the applicability of tag-and-recapture methodology is examined as an effective source of fish movement information. The results of this research corroborate findings of previous studies as well as provide new insight into the movement patterns of some nearshore temperate reef species.