Environmental influences on the spatial ecology of juvenile smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata): results from acoustic monitoring
Simpfendorfer, Colin A., Yeiser, Beau G., Wiley, Tonya R., Poulakis, Gregg R., Stevens, Philip W., and Heupel, Michelle R. (2011) Environmental influences on the spatial ecology of juvenile smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata): results from acoustic monitoring. PLoS One, 6 (2). pp. 1-12.
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To aid recovery efforts of smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata) populations in U.S. waters a research project was developed to assess how changes in environmental conditions within estuarine areas affected the presence, movements, and activity space of this endangered species. Forty juvenile P. pectinata were fitted with acoustic tags and monitored within the lower 27 km of the Caloosahatchee River estuary, Florida, between 2005 and 2007. Sawfish were monitored within the study site from 1 to 473 days, and the number of consecutive days present ranged from 1 to 125. Residency index values for individuals varied considerably, with annual means highest in 2005 (0.95) and lowest in 2007 (0.73) when several P. pectinata moved upriver beyond detection range during drier conditions. Mean daily activity space was 1.42 km of river distance. The distance between 30-minute centers of activity was typically <0.1 km, suggesting limited movement over short time scales. Salinity electivity analysis demonstrated an affinity for salinities between 18 and at least 24 psu, suggesting movements are likely made in part, to remain within this range. Thus, freshwater flow from Lake Okeechobee (and its effect on salinity) affects the location of individuals within the estuary, although it remains unclear whether or not these movements are threatening recovery.