Aaron J. Adams

Aaron J. Adams
Bonefish & Tarpon Trust and Florida Atlantic University · Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute

Ph.D.

About

115
Publications
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Introduction
I am the Director of Science and Conservation for Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, and a Senior Scientist at Florida Atlantic University Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute. My scientific focus is on conducting applied research with conservation implications (from coral reef to recreational species), with particular interest in fish habitat ecology. At BTT I create the strategy for, oversee, and execute BTT’s collaborative efforts as a science-based conservation organization to apply research findings to conservation needs for coastal fisheries. This requires a multi-methods approach to understanding the ecology of focal species and their habitats, as well as the socio-cultural and economic aspects of the fisheries they support, and a strategic application of research findings to conservation an

Publications

Publications (115)
Article
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Permit (Trachinotus falcatus) occupy a variety of coastal marine habitats and support valuable recreational fisheries in their home region of the Caribbean Sea. As an aggregate spawning species, Permit require careful management in locations such as the Florida Keys where they experience substantial fishing pressure. We used acoustic telemetry to e...
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Tropical and subtropical coastal flats are shallow regions of the marine environment at the intersection of land and sea. These regions provide myriad ecological goods and services, including recreational fisheries focused on flats-inhabiting fishes such as bonefish, tarpon, and permit. The cascading effects of climate change have the potential to...
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Traditional approaches to dietary assessment in fish necessitate the collection of stomach contents through either gastric lavage or lethal sampling. The Atlantic bonefish (Albula vulpes) is an economically important sportfish in the western central Atlantic region for which a minimally invasive, non-lethal alternative to morphological dietary asse...
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This study investigated the potential effects of red tide events (blooms of the toxin-producing dinoflagellate, Karenia brevis) on Atlantic tarpon (Megalops atlanticus), a long-lived migratory game fish, along the southwestern coast of Florida. In this region, red tides have long been associated with mass mortality events of marine organisms and ot...
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Fishery management in Brazil has many challenges, including the engagement of fishers, building institutional (NGO, university, etc.) relationships to carry out research and provide key data for managers, and strengthening the capacity to articulate effective management strategies (policy institution). Here we report on recent work to address some...
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Atlantic Bonefish (Albula vulpes) are economically important due to their popularity with recreational anglers. In the State of Florida, USA, bonefish population numbers declined by approximately 60% between the 1990s and 2015. Habitat loss, water quality impairment, chemical inputs, and other anthropogenic factors have been implicated as causes, b...
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Theoretical, field-based, and experimental research all suggest that animal populations remain relatively stable under increasing habitat alteration until a critical threshold is reached, after which small changes to habitats result in large negative responses. However, there are few empirical examples demonstrating this in marine fishes, making id...
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Understanding the scale of fish movements is essential to establish appropriate fisheries management boundaries. In Florida (USA), Permit (Trachinotus falcatus) is a valued recreational species as a sportfish and as table fare. The Permit fishery in Florida occurs in two geographic sectors: (1) in the Florida Keys and in Biscayne Bay, most anglers...
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Recreational fisheries managers are often challenged by the lack of long-term data to monitor the status and trends of fisheries. Tournament records may provide a useful source of information to identify long-term trends in recreational fisheries. The Bonefish fishery in the Florida Keys (USA) has experienced a long-term and sequential period of de...
Article
Interspecific interactions can play an essential role in shaping wildlife populations and communities. To date, assessments of interspecific interactions, and more specifically predator–prey dynamics, in aquatic systems over broad spatial and temporal scales (i.e., hundreds of km and multiple years) are rare due to constraints on our abilities to m...
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Anthropogenic habitat alteration is a threat to biodiversity globally. Challenges to conservation are often related to lack of data and public awareness of conservation importance. In terrestrial conservation, these challenges have predominately been addressed using surrogate species. This includes umbrella species, whose ecological needs are known...
Article
1. Animal movement and resource use are essential considerations for effective environmental management, but they are challenging to quantify in expansive natural ecosystems such as oceans. 2. We used a novel combination of fish tracking with expansive acoustic telemetry networks, stable isotope analysis, and integrated modeling techniques to char...
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Resumen El sábalo Megalops atlanticus es una especie importante en la pesca recreativa y está evaluada como Vulnerable por la Unión Internacional para la Conservación de la Naturaleza, debido a la sobrepesca y pérdida de sus hábitats. Es abundante en Cuba, capturado en pesquerías comerciales y de subsistencia como fuente de alimento, y comercializa...
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Resumen El sábalo Megalops atlanticus es una especie importante en la pesca recreativa y está evaluada como Vulnerable por la Unión Internacional para la Conservación de la Naturaleza, debido a la sobrepesca y pérdida de sus hábitats. Es abundante en Cuba, capturado en pesquerías comerciales y de subsistencia como fuente de alimento, y comercializa...
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Little is known about early development of the near-threatened bonefish (Albula vulpes), a member of superorder Elopomorpha. Members of Elopomorpha are partially defined by their synapomorphic leptocephalus larval stage, for which the nutritional requirements are not well understood. Characterizing the nutritional profile, including major nutrients...
Article
Data from the Integrated Tracking of Aquatic Animals in the Gulf of Mexico (iTAG) network, and sister networks, were used to evaluate fish movements in the Florida Keys—an extensive reef fish ecosystem just north of Cuba connecting the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. We analysed ~2 million detections for 23 species, ranging from reef fish such a...
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Many tropical fisheries are data-poor and lack population demographic information needed for effective management and conservation. In this study we used mark-recapture of bonefish, Albula vulpes, an important species in catch-and-release recreational fisheries , to estimate capture probabilities. Moreover, for the first time we generated key demog...
Article
• A spatial approach to coastal management, such as marine protected areas, is being increasingly used to address biodiversity and fishery declines resulting from habitat loss, degradation, and overfishing. This approach is especially applicable in regions and fisheries that are data poor, and which often lack regulations and adequate capacity for...
Article
Atlantic tarpon Megalops atlanticus are important mesopredators in the western Atlantic Ocean, and the focus of a popular recreational fishery that targets them throughout their annual migration in the Gulf of Mexico and southeastern USA. Using 4 years of acoustic telemetry data, we quantified the seasonal variation in phenology of arrival and depa...
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Coastal marine fishes that form spawning aggregations most commonly exhibit a two-point movement pattern, with locations separated by migration: home range to spawning aggregation site and return to home range. However, the bonefish, Albula vulpes, partakes in a unique three-point spawning migration. Bonefish migrate up to 80 km from shallow water...
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Stakeholder engagement is essential to conserve ecosystems and associated biodiversity. Outdoor recreation specialists represent stakeholder groups that often rely on specific healthy ecosystems and have unique incentives to contribute to conservation and stewardship. We introduce the concept of habitat-dependent outdoor recreation conservation org...
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Although bonefish, Albula vulpes, supports a culturally and socioeconomically important recreational fishery in the Caribbean Sea, little is known about their population characteristics. Understanding their population parameters are important for the creation of a sustainable fishery strategy in the Caribbean region. We used multistate modeling to...
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Information on ecological systems often comes from diverse sources with varied levels of complexity, bias, and uncertainty. Accordingly, analytical techniques continue to evolve that address these challenges to reveal the characteristics of ecological systems and inform conservation actions. We applied multiple statistical learning algorithms (i.e....
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In order to encourage the survival of both captive and wild populations of bonefish (Albula vulpes), a deeper understanding of the species' early developmental characteristics is necessary. During ontogenesis, bonefish utilize lipids as a source of energy before the start of exogenous feeding. The goal of this study is to gain insight into the ener...
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The Caribbean bonefish species Albula vulpes is an economically important nearshore marine sport fish that has notably declined in the Florida Keys over the past 20–30 years. The reasons for this decline are unclear, although habitat loss, water quality reductions, climate change, and other environmental drivers likely play a role. Infectious disea...
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Bonefishes (Albula spp.) are classified within the superorder Elopomorpha, which is comprised of over 1000 species that share a unique leptocephalus larval stage. Bonefishes have a circum-tropical distribution, inhabiting inshore shallow water flats and gathering in presumptive nearshore pre-spawn aggregations (PSA) during spawning months. These fi...
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Bonefish (Albula vulpes L.) are a highly‐prized sportfish. Despite their economic importance, populations in the Florida Keys and Caribbean are in decline with the early life history undescribed. Injections of carp pituitary extract into A. vulpes during advanced stages of ovarian development induced ovulation and spawning. Embryos were sampled hou...
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The prop roots of mangroves play an important role as habitat for juvenile fishes. Revisit studies (>10 yrs apart) provide rare and valuable insights into the structure and stability of these systems in the face of escalating pressure from coastal development, climate change, and fisheries. We compared assemblages of juvenile fishes in the mangrove...
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Bonefish (Albula vulpes) is a socioeconomically important species that supports a data-poor recreational fishery in developing countries. Understanding how environmental variables influence its abundance and movement is important for better decision-making. This study used mark-recapture to examine the association between abiotic (temperature, sali...
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Understanding large‐scale migratory behaviours, local movement patterns and population connectivity are critical to determining the natural processes and anthropogenic stressors that influence population dynamics and for developing effective conservation plans. Atlantic tarpon occur over a broad geographic range in the Atlantic Ocean where they sup...
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We used acoustic telemetry to quantify permit Trachinotus falcatus habitat use and connectivity in proximity to the Florida Keys, USA, and assessed these patterns relative to current habitat and fisheries management practices. From March 2017 to June 2018, 45 permit tagged within 16 km of the lower Florida Keys were detected at stationary acoustic...
Article
Acoustic telemetry is a popular tool for long‐term tracking of aquatic animals to describe and quantify patterns of movement, space use, and diverse ecological interactions. Acoustic receivers are imperfect sampling instruments, and their detection range (DR; the area surrounding the receiver in which tag transmissions can be detected) often varies...
Article
Telemetry is being used to generate an unprecedented level of knowledge on the underwater environment, much of which is relevant to marine policy and management. Yet, examples of telemetry directly informing management practices are still rare or undocumented. Here we describe a case in which fish telemetry data were rapidly incorporated into recre...
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Many species of tropical marine fish aggregate to spawn, and the dynamics of these aggregations make them especially susceptible to overfishing and habitat loss. Spawning aggregations tend to attract reproductive adults from a large geographic area, sites are traditionally used across generations, and larval dispersal can help supply regional fish...
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Bonefish (Albula vulpes) are a valuable fishery resource of tropical and subtropical ecosystems worldwide. Despite their importance, there is limited information on bonefish life history and ecology. The present study aims to describe, for the first time, oocytes development and their lipid characteristics in wild bonefish during the reproductive s...
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Bonefish (Albula vulpes) support a world-renowned fishery in South Florida, USA. However, fishing guides and anglers have been reporting significant declines in bonefish angling quality over that past three decades. In the absence of any long-term bonefish stock and ecosystem assessments, the cause of this decline in the fishery is unclear. Here we...
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The localized scale of most fisheries management does not account for potential regional connectivity, particularly for fish species with prolonged planktonic larval durations (PLD). Although bonefish (Albula vulpes) inhabits shallow coastal habitats from juvenile through adult life stages, it is a strong candidate for population connectivity via l...
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Effective marine habitat protection requires life history information, including identification of connected adult habitats and spawning sites, and movement information throughout those areas. Here, we implemented a mark-recapture study in the Bahamas Archipelago to estimate patterns of site fidelity, and to determine what homesites are connected t...
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Bonefish (Albula vulpes) support an economically important fishery, yet little is known regarding the reproductive biology of this species. Blood and oocyte samples were collected from wild female bonefish (Albula vulpes) during (February and April, 2017) and outside (September, 2017) the spawning season in Grand Bahama Island, The Bahamas. Fish re...
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Spatial data are key to fishery management; however, most often the spatial distribution of marine populations and fishing dynamics are poorly documented, especially for recreational fish species. The combination of fisheries-dependent data (FDD) obtained from logbooks, and local ecological knowledge (LEK) gathered from key stakeholders could be a...
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Bonefish (Albula vulpes) are an important resource for catch-and-release fishing in the Caribbean Sea. Understanding movements within and between the Caribbean Coast (CC) and Chetumal-Corozal Bay (CB) in Mexico and Belize is crucial for identifying and protecting home ranges, migration routes, pre-spawning and spawning sites. We used a mixed-method...
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Local ecological knowledge (LEK) can be a valuable approach to fill in knowledge gaps in data-limited systems. Recent research has aimed to make LEK more quantitative-a key step to better integration of LEK into fisheries science and management. Here, we used LEK to a) quantify changes in bonefishing quality over time in South Florida as perceived...
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Bonefish (Albula spp.) are a prized sportfish among avid anglers worldwide. Two morphologically indistinguishable species of bonefish (Albula vulpes and Albula goreensis) occur in coastal areas of the tropical western Atlantic. Growth rates of A. vulpes, which supports an economically important sport fishery, differ among locations where they have...
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Coastal wetlands function as nurseries for juveniles of many fishes, including common snook (Centropomus undecimalis) and Atlantic tarpon (Megalops atlanticus). Thousands of hectares of mangrove habitat in the Indian River Lagoon (IRL), Florida (USA) have been impounded for mosquito control, limiting connectivity and potentially decreasing nursery...
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Coastal habitats are threatened worldwide by habitat loss and degradation. These habitats play a crucial role as fish nurseries. Unfortunately, it is difficult to determine the impact of habitat degradation for many species because data are lacking on early life history metrics including growth (0.07 ± 0.04 SE mm/day in this study), survival (appar...
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The recreational, catch and release fishery for fishes that inhabit shallow-water, coastal marine habitats in tropical and sub-tropical regions (called the flats fishery) is economically valuable and increasingly perceived as a sustainable ecotourism pursuit. However, knowledge of many aspects of target species (such as bonefish, tarpon and permit)...
Article
Bonefish are typically thought of as ‘flats fish’ that reside in shallow, tropical and subtropical nearshore coastal waters. However, evidence from tagging and acoustic tracking studies indicate that bonefish migrate to staging areas, form large aggregations (>5000 individuals), and then move to deep-water drop-offs at dusk to spawn. Because the of...
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Blood and oocyte samples were collected from wild female bonefish (Albula vulpes) during (February and April, 2017) and outside (September, 2017) the spawning season in Grand Bahama Island, The Bahamas. Fish reproductive state was evaluated using histological analysis of the oocytes and determination of sex hormone levels of 17β-estradiol and testo...
Article
Understanding the nature of migratory behaviors within animal populations is critical to develop and refine conservation and management plans. However, tracking migratory marine animals across life stages and over multiple years is inherently difficult to achieve, especially for highly migratory species. In this paper, we explore the use of acousti...
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Recreational fisheries can be prone to severe declines, yet these fisheries, particularly catch-and-release, are often data-limited, constraining our ability to conduct stock assessments. A combination of catch and effort indices derived from fisheries-dependent data (FDD) gathered from fishing logbooks could be a powerful approach to inform these...
Data
Model selection process to simplify the initial full CATCH model. Variables included: Year (Yr), Month, hours fished (HRSF), number of fisherman (NFMEN), first and second axis of Principal Coordinate Analysis based on species abundance (PCO1 and PCO2) and presence (PCO1.2 and PCO2.2). Asterisks are illustrating the variables that were included in e...