Original Paper

Marine Biology

, Volume 157, Issue 6, pp 1237-1250

First online:

Assessing reef fish assemblage structure: how do different stereo-video techniques compare?

  • Dianne L. WatsonAffiliated withCentre for Marine Futures, The University of Western AustraliaSchool of Plant Biology, The University of Western Australia Email author 
  • , Euan S. HarveyAffiliated withSchool of Plant Biology, The University of Western Australia
  • , Ben M. FitzpatrickAffiliated withSchool of Plant Biology, The University of Western Australia
  • , Timothy J. LangloisAffiliated withSchool of Plant Biology, The University of Western Australia
  • , George ShedrawiAffiliated withSchool of Plant Biology, The University of Western Australia

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Abstract

Measures of fish abundance, assemblage composition and length were compared when sampled by baited remote underwater stereo-video (stereo BRUV) and diver-operated stereo-video transects (stereo DOV) at the Houtman Abrolhos Islands and Ningaloo Reef. Species richness counts were 40% higher on stereo BRUV than stereo DOV. Stereo BRUVs also recorded a greater number of large-bodied targeted species in higher abundance than stereo DOV (e.g. Lethrinus nebulosus, Plectropomus leopardus) at the Houtman Abrolhos and at Ningaloo Reef. Many non-targeted species were also recorded in greater abundances on stereo BRUV than stereo DOV (e.g. Coris auricularis, Gymnothorax spp). Stereo DOV transects recorded a greater abundance of some small-bodied Pomacentridae, Labridae and Scaridae species than did stereo BRUV, particularly at Ningaloo Reef. This study demonstrates that choice of sampling technique for surveys of reef fish can lead to very different biological interpretations of fish assemblage structure.