Characterizing larval swordfish habitat in the western tropical North Atlantic
Suca, Justin J.
Rasmuson, Leif K.
Lamkin, John T.
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KeywordCaribbean Sea; Generalized additive models; Gulf of Mexico; Larval habitat; Swordfish; Xiphiidae
Swordfish Xiphias gladius (Linnaeus, 1758) are a circumglobal pelagic fish targeted by multiple lucrative fisheries. Determining the distribution of swordfish larvae is important for indicating reproductive activity and understanding the early life history of swordfish. We identify and characterize larval swordfish distributions during peak swordfish spawning throughout the Gulf of Mexico and western Caribbean Sea with generalized additive models (GAMs) using catches of swordfish larvae during ichthyoplankton surveys in April and May of 2010, 2011, and 2012. The best fit GAM, as determined by stepwise, backward Akaike Information Criterion selection, included both physiochemical (temperature at 5 m, sea surface height anomaly (SSHA), eddy kinetic energy (EKE)), temporal (lunar illumination, hour of sampling) and spatial (location) variables, while near-surface chlorophyll a concentration residuals remained as a random effect. The highest probability of larval swordfish catch occurred at sub-surface temperatures, SSHA, and EKE values indicative of boundary currents. Standard lengths of larvae were larger further downstream in the boundary currents, despite high variability in length with location due to multiple spawning locations of swordfish near these currents. Probability of larval swordfish catch also peaked during the crescent and gibbous moons, indicating a lunar periodicity to swordfish spawning. These results suggest that swordfish may spawn during select moon phases near boundary currents that transport their larvae to larval and juvenile habitat including the northern Gulf of Mexico and coastal waters of the southeast United States.
Author Posting. © The Author(s), 2017. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here under a nonexclusive, irrevocable, paid-up, worldwide license granted to WHOI. It is made available for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Fisheries Oceanography, 27 (2018): 246-258, doi:10.1111/fog.12249.
Suggested CitationPreprint: Suca, Justin J., Rasmuson, Leif K., Malca, Estrella, Gerard, Trika, Lamkin, John T., "Characterizing larval swordfish habitat in the western tropical North Atlantic", 2017-09, https://doi.org/10.1111/fog.12249, https://hdl.handle.net/1912/10313
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