Publication Date




Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Marine Biology and Fisheries (Marine)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Elizabeth A. Babcock

Second Committee Member

David J. Die

Third Committee Member

Donald L. DeAngelis

Fourth Committee Member

Jerald S. Ault

Fifth Committee Member

Clay E. Porch


Managing coral reef fisheries can be complicated by spatial heterogeneity in the distribution of fish and in the distribution of fishing activities. Improving reef fish sampling can be addressed by evaluating linkages between data and their subsequent uses in population assessment and fisheries decision-making. In this dissertation, integrated approaches to sampling and assessment of coral reef fisheries were developed using a spatially explicit individual-based simulation framework. The simulation framework was used to evaluate whether and how precision of spatially-stratified surveys influenced assessment and decision-making performance for a black grouper (Mycteroperca bonaci) fishery within the Florida Keys reef tract. The simulation framework was also used to evaluate whether a spatially explicit mark-recovery approach could accurately estimate exploitation status of a spiny lobster (Panulirus argus) fishery in Belize that is managed in conjunction with a no-take marine reserve. The former simulations emphasized the effects of spatial heterogeneity of fish on population assessment, while the latter simulations emphasized the effects of spatial heterogeneity of fishing activity. Simulations attributed breakdowns in fishery management to bias and precision of sampling, but also illuminated strategies for moving beyond these breakdowns by integrating sampling designs with assessment and decision-making.


population dynamics; individual-based modeling