Advertisement

Marine Biology

, Volume 151, Issue 3, pp 1069–1076 | Cite as

Appraisal of visual assessments of habitat complexity and benthic composition on coral reefs

  • S. K. Wilson
  • N. A. J. Graham
  • N. V. C. Polunin
Research Article

Abstract

Visual assessments of topographic habitat structure and benthos on coral reefs were appraised using quantitative data collected from 16 replicate surveys within each of 21 sites on Seychelles reefs. Results from visual assessments of reef benthos were similar to those obtained using techniques frequently used to assess benthic complexity and composition. Visual estimates of habitat topography were correlated with rugosity, reef height and holes of 10–70 cm diameter, whilst visual estimates of benthic composition were very similar to those obtained from line intercept transects. Visual estimates of topography correlated strongly with species richness of fish communities and explained 42% of the variation in these data. The relationship between visual estimates of topography and species richness is strongest with fish 10–30 cm total length (TL), abundance of fish within this size category also correlating positively with topographic visual assessments. Visual techniques are prone to observer bias, however with regular training they can be used to quickly provide a reliable and effective means of assessing habitat complexity and benthos on coral reefs.

Keywords

Coral Reef Fish Community Coral Cover Complexity Measure Habitat Complexity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank the Seychelles Centre for Marine Research and Technology-Marine Parks Authority, Seychelles Fishing Authority and Nature Seychelles for logistical support and M. Chang-Leng, A. Cheal, M. Emslie, I. Miller and F. Ravina for their assistance in the field. Early drafts of the manuscript were improved by comments from M. Emslie and R. Fisher. S. Delean and R. Fisher provided statistical advice. This work was supported by grants from the Leverhulme Trust and the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA).

References

  1. Ackerman JL, Bellwood DR (2000) Reef fish assemblages: a re-evaluation using enclosed rotenone stations. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 206:227–237Google Scholar
  2. Almany GR (2004) Differential effects of habitat complexity, predators and competitors on abundance of juvenile and adult coral reef fishes. Oecologia 141:105–113PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Beck MW (2000) Separating the elements of habitat structure: independent effects of habitat complexity and structural components on rocky intertidal gastropods. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 249:29–49PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bergman KC, Öhman MC, Svensson S (2000) Influence of habitat structure on Pomacentrus sulfureus, a western Indian Ocean reef fish. Environ Biol Fish 59:243–252CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Burnham KP, Anderson DR (1998) Model selection and inference: a practical information-theoretic approach. Springer-Verlag, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  6. Caley MJ, St John J (1996) Refuge availability structures assemblages of tropical reef fishes. J Anim Ecol 65:414–428CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Carpenter KE, Miclat RI, Albaladejo VD, Corpuz VT (1982) The influence of substrate structure on the local abundance and diversity of Philippine reef fishes. Proc 4th Int Coral Reef Symp 2:497–502Google Scholar
  8. Chittaro PM, Usseglio P, Sale PF (2005) Variation in fish density, assemblage composition and relative rates of predation among mangrove, seagrass and coral reef habitats. Environ Biol Fish 72:175–187CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Clua E, Legendre P, Vigliola L, Magron F, Kulbicki M, Sarramegna S, Labrosse P, Galzin R (2006) Medium scale approach (MSA) for improved assessment of coral reef fish habitat. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 333:219–230CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Evans RD, Russ GR (2004) Larger biomass of targeted reef fish in no-take marine reserves on the great barrier reef, Australia. Aquatic Conserv: Mar Freshw Ecosyst 14:505–519Google Scholar
  11. Friedlander AM, Parrish JD (1998) Habitat characteristics affecting fish assemblages on a Hawaiian coral reef. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 224:1–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Garpe KC, Yahya SAS, Lindahl U, Öhman MC (2006) Effects of the 1998 coral bleaching event on reef fish assemblages. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 315:237–247Google Scholar
  13. Graham MH (2003) Confronting multicollinearity in ecological mutliple regression. Ecology 84:2809–2815Google Scholar
  14. Graham NAJ, Evans RD, Russ GR (2003) The effects of marine reserve protection on the trophic relationships of reef fishes on the great barrier reef. Environ Conserv 30:200–208CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Graham NAJ, Wilson SK, Jennings S, Polunin NVC, Bijoux JP, Robinson J (2006) Dynamic fragility of oceanic coral reef ecosystems. Proc Nat Acad Sci USA 103:8425–8429PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gratwicke B, Speight MR (2005a) The relationship between fish species richness, abundance and habitat complexity in a range of shallow tropical marine habitats. J Fish Biol 66:650–667CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gratwicke B, Speight MR (2005b) Effects of habitat complexity on Caribbean marine fish assemblages. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 292:301–310Google Scholar
  18. Grigg RW (1994) Effects of sewage discharge, fishing pressure and habitat complexity on coral ecosystems and reef fishes in Hawaii. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 103:25–34Google Scholar
  19. Hixon MA, Beets JP (1993) Predation, prey refuges, and the structure of coral-reef fish assemblages. Ecol Monogr 63:77–101CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Jennings S, Grandcourt EM, Poluinin PVC (1995) The effects of fishing on the diversity, biomass and trophic structure of Seychelles’ reef fish community. Coral Reefs 14:225–235Google Scholar
  21. Jennings S, Boulle DP, Polunin NVC (1996) Habitat correlates of the distribution and biomass of Seychelles reef fishes. Environ Biol Fish 46:15–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lawson GL, Kramer DL, Hunte W (1999) Size-related habitat use and schooling behavior in two species of surgeonfish (Acanthurus bahianus and A. coeruleus) on a fringing reef in Barbados, West Indies. Environ Biol Fish 54:19–33CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lewis AR (1997) Effects of experimental coral disturbance on the structure of fish communities on large patch reefs. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 161:37–50Google Scholar
  24. Long BG, Andrews G, Wang YG Suharsono (2004) Sampling accuracy of reef resource inventory technique. Coral Reefs 23:378–385CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Luckhurst BE, Luckhurst K (1978) Analysis of the influence of substrate variables on coral reef fish communities. Mar Biol 49:317–323CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. McCormick MI (1994) Comparison of field methods for measuring surface topography and their associations with a tropical reef fish assemblage. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 112:87–96Google Scholar
  27. Miller IR, De’ath G (1996) Effects of training on observer performance in assessing benthic cover by means of the manta tow technique. Mar Freshw Res 47:19–26CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Munday PL, Jones GP, Caley MJ (1997) Habitat specialisation and the distribution and abundance of coral-dwelling gobies. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 152:227–239Google Scholar
  29. Munday PL, Jones GP (1998) The ecological implications of small body size among coral-reef fishes. Oceanogr Mar Biol Annu Rev 36:373–411Google Scholar
  30. Polunin NVC, Roberts CM (1993) Greater biomass and value of target coral-reef fishes in two small Caribbean marine reserves. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 100:167–176Google Scholar
  31. Pratchett MS, Wilson SK, Berumen ML, McCormick MI (2004) Sublethal effects of coral bleaching on an obligate coral feeding butterflyfish. Coral Reefs 23:352–356CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Risk MJ (1972) Fish diversity on a coral reef in the Virgin Islands. Atoll Res Bull 153:1–6Google Scholar
  33. Roberts CM, Ormond RFG (1987) Habitat complexity and coral reef fish diversity and abundance on Red Sea fringing reefs. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 41:1–8Google Scholar
  34. Russ GR, Stockwell B, Alcala AC (2005) Inferring versus measuring rates of recovery in no-take marine reserves. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 292:1–12Google Scholar
  35. Sano M, Shimizu M, Nose Y (1984) Changes in structure of coral-reef fish communities by destruction of hermatypic corals—observational and experimental views. Pac Sci 38:51–79Google Scholar
  36. Sheppard CRC, Spalding S, Bradshaw C, Wilson S (2002) Erosion vs. recovery of coral reefs after 1998 El Niño: chagos reefs, Indian Ocean. Ambio 31:40–48PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Shulman MJ (1984) Resource limitation and recruitment patterns in a coral reef fish assemblage. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 74:85–109CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Sogard SM (1997) Size-selective mortality in the juvenile stage of teleost fishes: a review. Bull Mar Sci 60:1129–1157Google Scholar
  39. Spalding MD, Jarvis GE (2002) The impact of the 1998 coral mortality on reef fish communities in the Seychelles. Mar Poll Bull 44:309–321CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Syms C, Jones GP (2000) Disturbance, habitat structure, and the dynamics of a coral-reef fish community. Ecology 81:2714–2729CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Thompson AA, Mapstone BD (1997) Observer effects and training in underwater visual surveys of reef fishes. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 154:53–63Google Scholar
  42. Wilson SK, Street S, Sato T (2005) Use of discarded conch shells by coral reef fishes. Mar Biol 147:179–188CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. K. Wilson
    • 1
    • 2
  • N. A. J. Graham
    • 1
  • N. V. C. Polunin
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Marine Science and TechnologyUniversity of NewcastleNewcastle-upon-TyneUK
  2. 2.Australian Institute of Marine Science, TMCTownsvilleAustralia

Personalised recommendations