Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Dr. Richard Kline

Second Advisor

Dr. David Hicks

Third Advisor

Dr. MD Saydur Rahman


The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Artificial Reef Program has deployed over 2,800 hectares of reefing area composed of petroleum platforms, steel vessels, and concrete. Artificial reefs have been shown to support many important reef fishes such as red snapper (Lutjanus campechanus), however, few studies have compared fish behavior on artificial reefs and natural habitats. We examined activity levels, behavioral patterns and habitat preferences of red snapper over natural reefs, oil platforms and submerged ships. Telemetry tags (Sonotronics model MTT) with tri-axial acceleration range, average depth, and average temperature were programmed to optimize data collection and tag life. Tags were then calibrated with captive fish to determine behavioral categories. Fifty-five wild snapper were caught and surgically implanted at depth to reduce barotrauma and predation, then monitored for one year. Overall dynamic body acceleration (ODBA) as the sum of x, y and z acceleration range was used to estimate activity levels of red snapper residing at each reef type. A variety of residency times were detected on all reef types and fish commonly moved between reefs. Acceleration and depth data indicated that time of day, depth use, lunar cycle, and season influence red snapper movement and behavior. Average ODBA was significantly higher over artificial than natural reefs (p = 0.03) during May 2016 suggesting that red snapper behave differently on artificial habitats. On-going research will determine if higher activity levels recorded on artificial reefs are due to increased feeding opportunities, spawning behavior or increased conspecific interactions.


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