Linking spatial metrics and fish catch reveals the importance of coastal wetland connectivity to inshore fisheries in Queensland, Australia

Meynecke, J-O., Lee, S.Y., and Duke, N.C. (2008) Linking spatial metrics and fish catch reveals the importance of coastal wetland connectivity to inshore fisheries in Queensland, Australia. Biological Conservation, 141 (4). pp. 981-996.

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Many commercially important fish species use coastal marine environments such as mangroves, tidal flats and seagrass beds as nurseries or breeding grounds. The ecological importance of spatially connected habitats to conservation is well established for terrestrial environments. However, few studies have applied spatial metrics, including measures of structural connectivity to marine environments. We examined the relationship between catch-per-unit-effort for commercially caught species and the spatial patterning of mapped benthic habitat types along the coast of Queensland, Australia in their dominant fisheries (trawl, line, net or pot fisheries). We quantified the composition and spatial configuration of seascapes and calculated coastline length, number of estuaries, river length and geographical latitude using 12 metrics within ninety 30-nautical-mile grid cells, which supported inshore fish catch data from 21 species groups. Multiple regression analysis and non-metric multidimensional scaling plots indicated that ecological linkages may exist between geomorphic coastal features and nearshore fisheries production for a number of species groups. Connectivity indices for mangroves, salt marsh and channels explained the largest proportion (30–70%), suggesting the importance of connected tidal wetlands for fisheries. Barramundi (Lates calcarifer) catch-per-unit-effort was best explained by the number of wetland patches, mangrove connectivity and wetland connectivity (r2 = 0.38, n = 28). Catch-per-unit-effort for the Gulf of Carpentaria was highly correlated with wetland connectivity, the number of estuaries and seagrass patch density (r = 0.57, n = 29). The findings could guide the spatial design of marine protected area networks to maintain ecosystem services and avoid potential disruption to connectivity caused by habitat removal or modification. Application of the same approach to analyses of finer spatial scales would enable catch information to be related to particular estuarine habitats and provide better understanding of the importance of habitat connectivity for fisheries.

Item ID: 30010
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1873-2917
Keywords: estuarine fisheries, connectivity pattern, tidal wetlands, landscape ecology, Australia
Date Deposited: 30 Oct 2013 09:41
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 60%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050209 Natural Resource Management @ 20%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050102 Ecosystem Function @ 20%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970105 Expanding Knowledge in the Environmental Sciences @ 20%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960503 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Coastal and Estuarine Environments @ 60%
83 ANIMAL PRODUCTION AND ANIMAL PRIMARY PRODUCTS > 8302 Fisheries - Wild Caught > 830204 Wild Caught Fin Fish (excl. Tuna) @ 20%
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