Within and between day variability in coral reef fish assemblages: implications for fish community surveys

Bach, L. L. and Smith, B. (2021) Within and between day variability in coral reef fish assemblages: implications for fish community surveys. Journal of Applied Ichthyology, 37(6), pp. 847-856. (doi: 10.1111/jai.14267)

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Abstract

Coral reef ecosystems are under increasing anthropogenic pressures making it ever more important to monitor changes in fish communities to implement appropriate management. In contrast to long-term spatial and temporal variation which has been extensively documented, little work has been carried out to identify variability in fish assemblages on short time scales, with few studies testing patterns of fish assemblages between and within days. Here we investigated the diurnal changes in species richness, relative abundance and assemblage composition in a shallow coral reef fish community in Egypt. To do so, a section of coral reef was filmed during the morning (0600 h), midday (1000 and 1400 h) and afternoon (1800 h) over eleven days. Dusk (0600 h) and dawn samples (1800 h) showed higher species richness compared to late morning (1000 h) and mid-day samples (1400 h) and borderline significantly higher numbers of total individuals, likely associated with feeding activity and predator avoidance. Assemblage composition varied across days and time-of-day, showing greater variability during dusk and dawn associated with a transition between day-time and night-time assemblages. Our results have implications for designing coral reef fish surveys, emphasising that short-term changes in fish communities should be considered when designing experiments to monitor fish assemblages over time. Where possible, we suggest increasing replication within sites and time scales or randomising data within a specific time window at all sites, looking to exclude dusk and dawn.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Bach, Dr Lydia
Authors: Bach, L. L., and Smith, B.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Molecular Cell and Systems Biology
Journal Name:Journal of Applied Ichthyology
Publisher:Wiley
ISSN:0175-8659
ISSN (Online):1439-0426
Published Online:15 October 2021
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 Wiley-VCH GmbH
First Published:First published in Journal of Applied Ichthyology 37(6): 847-856
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy
Data DOI:10.6084/m9.figshare.16606442

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