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Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program

Environmental Conservation

Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



Acoustic telemetry is an important tool when studying the spatial ecology of marine animals. First, it is important to identify the challenges of using this tool in shallow tropical marine environments before tracking marine animals. One significant issue that can influence the effectiveness of acoustic telemetry is the efficiency or detectability of acoustic signals by receivers. Understanding factors influencing detection efficiency of acoustic tags is especially important for fine-scale positioning systems (such as the VEMCO positioning system, VPS) that use detections in an overlapping receiver network to calculate geographic positions of tagged fish. I modelled the efficiency of an acoustic array in a tropical reef flat in Culebra, Puerto Rico and then tested the capability of detecting and positioning tagged permit (Trachinotus falcatus) and great barracuda (Sphyraena barracuda). Detection efficiencies were analyzed for a fine-scale array comprised of 25 receivers and 17 sync tags deployed as a fine-scale array for nearly three years. I used a generalized linear mixed-effect model Template Builder Model (glmmTMB) that helped elucidate the environmental variables that play a role in influencing the ability to detect transmitter signals. Then, I evaluated how well the fine- scale array was at detecting tagged permit (n=1) and great barracuda (n=4) using the reef flat. Once, the model was created, it was used to predict the likeliness of hourly detections of sync tags and tagged animals. Finally, the fine-scale and broad-scale array consisting of 59 receivers were used to determine the spatial movement patterns of permit and great barracuda. A glmmTMB was created to determine what environmental variables were present when each species visited the fine-scale array in the coral reef flat. The dynamic Brownian-Bridge Movement Model (DBBMM) was used to determine the fishes’ home range within the coral reef flat using X Y locations. Network connectivity was used to determine each fishes’ spatial movement patterns and community structure related to the receivers they visited. Lastly, spatial patterns throughout each diel period and season were determined. Collectively, this study revealed the benefits and limitations of using fine-scale acoustic telemetry in shallow coral reef ecosystems.


First Advisor

Andrew J. Danylchuk

Second Advisor

John T. Finn

Third Advisor

Lucas P. Griffin

Fourth Advisor

Adrian P. Jordaan