Deep-reef fish assemblages of the Great Barrier Reef shelf-break (Australia)

Sih, Tiffany L., Cappo, Mike, and Kingsford, Michael J. (2017) Deep-reef fish assemblages of the Great Barrier Reef shelf-break (Australia). Scientific Reports, 7. 10886.

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Abstract

Tropical mesophotic and sub-mesophotic fish ecology is poorly understood despite increasing vulnerability of deeper fish assemblages. Worldwide there is greater fishing pressure on continental shelf-breaks and the effects of disturbances on deeper fish species have not yet been assessed. Difficult to access, deeper reefs host undocumented fish diversity and abundance. Baited Remote Underwater Video Stations (BRUVS) with lights were used to sample deeper habitats (54–260 m), in the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), Australia. Here we describe fish biodiversity, relative abundance and richness, assessing the prediction that depth would drive assemblage structure in the GBR. Distinct groups of fishes were found with depth whilst overall richness and abundance decreased steeply between 100 and 260 m. Commercially-valuable Lutjanidae species from Pristipomoides and Etelis genera, were absent from shallower depths. Few fish species overlapped between adjacent depth strata, indicating unique assemblages with depth. We also detected new location records and potential new species records. The high biodiversity of fish found in shelf-break environments is poorly appreciated and depth is a strong predictor of assemblage composition. This may pose a challenge for managers of commercial fisheries as distinct depth ranges of taxa may translate to more readily targeted habitats, and therefore, an inherent vulnerability to exploitation.

Item ID: 52877
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2045-2322
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Copyright Information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
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A version of this publication was included as Chapter 2 of the following PhD thesis: Sih, Tiffany L. (2019) Diving into the deep-end: investigating tropical deep-reef fish assemblages. PhD thesis, James Cook University, which is available Open Access in ResearchOnline@JCU. Please see the Related URLs for access.

Funders: ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, Australian Institute of Marine Science, AIMS@JCU
Projects and Grants: PADI Foundation grant, Holsworth Wildlife Research Fund, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Science for Management Award, Great Barrier Reef Fund Bommies Award, JCU Across Boundaries grant, Australian Coral Reef Society Terry Walker Prize
Date Deposited: 12 Mar 2018 22:38
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity @ 10%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 90%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960507 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Marine Environments @ 100%
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