Patterns of courtship acoustics and geophysical features at spawning sites of black grouper (Mycteroperca bonaci)


Phillip J. Sanchez, Richard S. Appeldoorn, Michelle T. Schärer-Umpierre, and James V. Locascio
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Geomorphological assessments were conducted and passive acoustic recordings were collected from 2012 through 2014 at 3 recently identified spawning aggregations of the black grouper (Mycteroperca bonaci) in Puerto Rico and southern Florida. A time series of courtship-associated sounds (CASs) by black grouper were analyzed in relation to lunar and diel periodicities, water temperature, and tidal stage. Analysis of CAS recordings indicated similar temporal patterns at the 3 spawning aggregations. Spawning season was correlated with decreased water temperature. Within the spawning season, CAS production was influenced significantly by lunar and diel periodicities and sound production peaked between the last quarter and new moons during evening hours. The data from this study also indicate a potential correlation with tidal stage. Temporal patterns were similar during 3 consecutive years at Mona Island in Puerto Rico and for the geographically isolated sites of Mona Island and Riley’s Hump off Florida. At Bajo de Sico in Puerto Rico, courtship activity was lower than that at the other sites but reflected the same general patterns in 2014. For all 3 sites, spawning aggregations were found less than 150 m from a promontory at depths between 25 and 35 m near deep water (>100 m).