High resolution study of the spatial distributions of abyssal fishes by autonomous underwater vehicle

Milligan, R.J., Morris, K.J., Bett, B.J., Durden, J.M., Jones, D.O.B., Robert, K., Ruhl, H.A. and Bailey, D.M. (2016) High resolution study of the spatial distributions of abyssal fishes by autonomous underwater vehicle. Scientific Reports, 6, 26095. (doi:10.1038/srep26095) (PMID:27180728) (PMCID:PMC4867640)

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Abstract

On abyssal plains, demersal fish are believed to play an important role in transferring energy across the seafloor and between the pelagic and benthic realms. However, little is known about their spatial distributions, making it difficult to quantify their ecological significance. To address this, we employed an autonomous underwater vehicle to conduct an exceptionally large photographic survey of fish distributions on the Porcupine Abyssal Plain (NE Atlantic, 4850 m water depth) encompassing two spatial scales (1–10 km2) on and adjacent to a small abyssal hill (240 m elevation). The spatial distributions of the total fish fauna and that of the two dominant morphotypes (Coryphaenoides sp. 1 and C. profundicolus) appeared to be random, a result contrary to common expectation but consistent with previous predictions for these fishes. We estimated total fish density on the abyssal plain to be 723 individuals km−2 (95% CI: 601–844). This estimate is higher, and likely more precise, than prior estimates from trawl catch and baited camera techniques (152 and 188 individuals km−2 respectively). We detected no significant difference in fish density between abyssal hill and plain, nor did we detect any evidence for the existence of fish aggregations at any spatial scale assessed.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Bailey, Dr David
Authors: Milligan, R.J., Morris, K.J., Bett, B.J., Durden, J.M., Jones, D.O.B., Robert, K., Ruhl, H.A., and Bailey, D.M.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
Journal Name:Scientific Reports
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN:2045-2322
ISSN (Online):2045-2322
Published Online:16 May 2016
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2016 The Authors
First Published:First published in Scientific Reports 6:26095
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
537491Evaluating the abundance of abyssal megafauna using an autonomous imaging platform.David BaileyNatural Environment Research Council (NERC)NE/H023569/1RI BIODIVERSITY ANIMAL HEALTH & COMPMED
552641NERC DTG 2010 - 2014: FBLSMarjorie BilsboroughNatural Environment Research Council (NERC)NE/I528369/1MVLS FINANCE