Ecological drivers of spatial variability among fish fauna of 21 tropical Australian estuaries

Sheaves, Marcus, and Johnston, Ross (2009) Ecological drivers of spatial variability among fish fauna of 21 tropical Australian estuaries. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 385. pp. 245-260.

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Abstract

Tropical estuarine fish assemblages often show characteristic spatial variation at the scale of individual estuaries but there is no clear grouping of estuaries based on variables such as proximity or climatic conditions. This study investigates if such spatial patterns occur at more extensive spatial scales and begins to uncover the mechanisms driving these patterns. We sampled 21 estuaries spanning 650 km of the tropical northeastern coast of Australia that comprise 3 climatic zones and 7 discrete regions. The 21 estuaries possessed broadly similar fish assemblages; however, there was considerable variation in the details of faunal composition, species richness and catch per unit effort (CPUE) of individual species. This variation had little to do with an estuary’s proximity to other sites or its climatic zone but was focussed at the estuary-to-estuary scale. The variability was largely a product of contrasting spatial patterns displayed by different species. In turn, the complex assemblage and species patterns seemed to be influenced in complex ways by contrasting responses to physical and ecological variables, with estuary-level ecological variables generally having greater power in explaining faunal differences than site-specific physical variables. The fact that estuary-level ecological variables produced a good explanation of the complex spatial patterns typical of tropical estuarine fauna indicates the value of developing estuary-scale explanatory variables that relate to specific ecological processes. The lack of any clear influence of climatic zone or proximity to other sites on spatial patterns highlights the continual need for careful evaluation of paradigmatic understanding.

Item ID: 5414
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1616-1599
Keywords: estuary, tropical, fish, distribution, composition, scale, tropical biology, marine science
Date Deposited: 18 Oct 2009 22:58
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960503 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Coastal and Estuarine Environments @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960802 Coastal and Estuarine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 25%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960305 Ecosystem Adaptation to Climate Change @ 25%
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