Unprecedented concern over the biological effects of over-exploitation, together with rapid technological advances in biotelemetry, have provided the impetus for much research, on a global scale, into the movement of marine animals. We reviewed 101 marine and estuarine fish movement studies from southern Africa, published from 1928 to 2014, with the aim of synthesising research trends and findings. Trends showed an increasing emphasis on fish movement research in publications in the sub-tropical and warm-temperate biogeographic regions along the south and east coasts of southern Africa. Although 63 % of publications featured only marine studies, research into fine-scale habitat use in estuaries has been on the increase, concomitant with increasing accessibility of biotelemetry. Overall, 26 families were identified in the surveyed literature with regionally endemic sparids featuring in 32 % of the publications. Ten movement themes were identified in the surveyed literature, including broad-scale movement patterns, which featured in 68 % of studies, followed by fine-scale habitat usage (33 %) and protected areas (26 %). The most prominent phenomenon, emerging from this research, is that of partial migration, which describes the occurrence of resident and migratory behaviour within a coexisting animal population. Substantial progress has also been made in unravelling the complexities of fine-scale habitat usage in marine reserves and in estuaries. While this knowledge has enabled more effective management of South Africa’s multi-user, multi-species fisheries, focus should now be directed at improving our understanding of the commonalities in movement behaviour, the associated driving forces behind this behaviour and the nature of movement across reserve boundaries.
Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries – Springer Journals
Published: Mar 25, 2016
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