Continental-scale acoustic telemetry and network analysis reveal new insights into stock structure

Elodie J.I. Lédée, Michelle R. Heupel, Matthew D. Taylor, Robert G. Harcourt, Fabrice R.A. Jaine, Charlie Huveneers, Vinay Udyawer, Hamish A. Campbell, Russell C. Babcock, Xavier Hoenner, Adam Barnett, Matias Braccini, Stephanie Brodie, Paul A. Butcher, Gwenael Cadiou, Ross G. Dwyer, Mario Espinoza, Luciana C. Ferreira, Lachlan Fetterplace, Anthony FowlerAlastair R. Harborne, Nathan A. Knott, Michael Lowry, Jaime McAllister, Rory McAuley, Mark Meekan, Kade Mills, Victor M. Peddemors, Richard Pillans, Jayson Semmens, Amy F. Smoothey, Conrad Speed, Kilian Stehfest, Dylan van der Meulen, Colin A. Simpfendorfer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Delineation of population structure (i.e. stocks) is crucial to successfully manage exploited species and to address conservation concerns for threatened species. Fish migration and associated movements are key mechanisms through which discrete populations mix and are thus important determinants of population structure. Detailed information on fish migration and movements is becoming more accessible through advances in telemetry and analysis methods however such information is not yet used systematically in stock structure assessment. Here, we described how detections of acoustically tagged fish across a continental-scale array of underwater acoustic receivers were used to assess stock structure and connectivity in seven teleost and seven shark species and compared to findings from genetic and conventional tagging. Network analysis revealed previously unknown population connections in some species, and in others bolstered support for existing stock discrimination by identifying nodes and routes important for connectivity. Species with less variability in their movements required smaller sample sizes (45–50 individuals) to reveal useful stock structure information. Our study shows the power of continental-scale acoustic telemetry networks to detect movements among fishery jurisdictions. We highlight methodological issues that need to be considered in the design of acoustic telemetry studies for investigating stock structure and the interpretation of the resulting data. The advent of broad-scale acoustic telemetry networks across the globe provides new avenues to understand how movement informs population structure and can lead to improved management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)987-1005
Number of pages19
JournalFish and Fisheries
Issue number5
Early online date5 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


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