Urban-industrial seascapes can be abundant and dynamic fish habitat

Bradley, Michael, Sheaves, Marcus, and Waltham, Nathan J. (2023) Urban-industrial seascapes can be abundant and dynamic fish habitat. Frontiers in Marine Science, 9. 1034039.

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Urban-industrial seascapes are prevalent around the world, yet we lack a basic understanding of how the mosaic of different habitats in these areas are used by mobile marine fauna, including features such as industrial ports and marinas. Urbanised areas have been alternately characterised in scientific literature as degraded, depauperate, or in some cases diverse and abundant. To advance our spatial and temporal understanding of the community of mobile marine fauna in these areas, we used repeated sonar image sampling over large swathes of two urban-industrial seascapes, combined with underwater video. 2,341 sonar segments were captured across Mackay Harbour and the Pioneer River estuary (North Queensland, Australia). We used this information to generate a preliminary understanding of the ecology of these locations. We found that overall, urban-industrial seascapes can contain counts of mobile marine fauna similar to natural areas, and that these seascapes are characterised by dynamic diel shifts in the spatial arrangement of mobile marine fauna in the water column. At night, large fish are prevalent in the water column, while during the day, assemblages are dominated by small fish. Within these urban-industrial seascapes, deeper areas containing heavy infrastructure such as ports can harbour large densities of fish, including heavily targeted fisheries species. These areas deserve recognition as marine habitat, are of consequence to fisheries, and have the potential to influence surrounding ecosystems. Important research questions remain regarding their impact on food webs and animal movement at larger scales.

Item ID: 77320
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2296-7745
Keywords: sonar, estuaries, ports, ecological engineering, blue economy, ocean sprawl, urban ecology
Copyright Information: © 2023 Bradley, Sheaves and Waltham. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
Funders: North Queensland Bulk Ports
Date Deposited: 25 Jan 2023 01:12
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410401 Conservation and biodiversity @ 30%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410404 Environmental management @ 30%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 40%
SEO Codes: 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1802 Coastal and estuarine systems and management > 180203 Coastal or estuarine biodiversity @ 50%
18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1805 Marine systems and management > 180507 Rehabilitation or conservation of marine environments @ 50%
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