Hypoxia in mangroves: occurrence and impact on valuable tropical fish habitat

Dubuc, Alexia, Baker, Ronald, Marchand, Cyril, Waltham, Nathan J., and Sheaves, Marcus (2019) Hypoxia in mangroves: occurrence and impact on valuable tropical fish habitat. Biogeosciences, 16 (20). pp. 3959-3976.

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Intertidal mangrove forests are harsh environments that can naturally experience hypoxia in association with low tide. However, we know relatively little about dissolved oxygen (DO) fluctuations and DO-induced responses by fish, although DO is a fundamental water quality parameter. This study examines DO as a potential factor regulating the utilisation of intertidal mangrove forests by fish and consequently their widely recognised feeding, refuge and nursery values. We deployed underwater video cameras, coupled with DO and depth loggers, in a mangrove forest to record changes in fish assemblages in response to tidal variations in DO and other associated environmental parameters. Our results indicate that DO underwent extreme tidal fluctuations, reaching levels as low as 14% saturation. As DO was identified as a significant factor for explaining variability in fish assemblage composition, we further investigated fish responses to DO fluctuations. Higher taxonomic richness and frequencies of occurrence were observed once DO reached 70 %– 80%saturation. More detailed examination revealed speciesspecific responses. Three distinct patterns of mangrove utilisation in response to DO were identified, driven by apparent taxa’s behavioural DO avoidance thresholds. Most taxa did not display any behavioural avoidance, including presence at the lowest DO levels, while other taxa were not observed either below 50 %–60% saturation or below 70 %–80% saturation. This implies that tidal migrations, often observed in intertidal environments, could be the result of differential DO tolerances and are not simply initiated by changes in water depth. Taxa remaining in the mangrove forest even at low DO were on average more frequently observed than the other taxa and were mostly species commonly associated with mangrove habitats. This suggests that being adapted to withstand low DO might be an important condition for using mangrove habitats extensively. The need of being tolerant to low DO could constrain fish utilisation and explain the relatively low species richness often observed in other intertidal mangrove forests.

Item ID: 60764
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1726-4189
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Copyright Information: © Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) License
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A version of this publication was included as Chapter 4 of the following PhD thesis: Dubuc, Alexia Ida Anne (2019) Dissolved oxygen as a constraint for the structure of mangrove fish assemblages and their patterns of mangrove utilisation: a comparison between natural and disturbed mangrove ecosystems through the Australian and Caledonian coastlines. PhD thesis, James Cook University, which is available Open Access in ResearchOnline@JCU. Please see the Related URLs for access.

Funders: Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Projects and Grants: DFAT grant no. ST000K7U8
Research Data: https://doi.org/10.25903/5cd4d312cbcfb
Date Deposited: 25 Nov 2019 02:46
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310304 Freshwater ecology @ 40%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410402 Environmental assessment and monitoring @ 40%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410406 Natural resource management @ 20%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960506 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Fresh, Ground and Surface Water Environments @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960807 Fresh, Ground and Surface Water Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 50%
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