100% endemism in mesophotic reef fish assemblages at Kure Atoll, Hawaiian Islands
KeywordsCoral Reef Fish Assemblage Hawaiian Island Marine Protected Area Global Biodiversity
The Hawaiian Archipelago is one of the most isolated island chains on Earth, and is known for a high proportion of endemism in its coral-reef fish fauna (Randall 2007). In the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI), percent endemism based on numerical densities increases with latitude on shallow coral reefs (<30 m), and peaks at 62 % at Pearl and Hermes Atoll (Friedlander et al. 2009). On mesophotic reefs (50–80 m) of the NWHI, endemism was also found to increase with latitude, reaching a peak of 92 % at Midway Atoll (Kane et al. 2014).
Endemism is a key attribute of natural communities and is of great importance to the conservation of global biodiversity. Within the Hawaiian Archipelago, which is already considered to be a hot spot of biodiversity, the mesophotic reefs of the NWHI represent the highest endemism portion of this hot spot. Endemic species are important contributors to global biodiversity, but their restricted geographic ranges make them more vulnerable to extinction (Roberts et al. 2002). This underscores the importance of the protection afforded by large marine protected areas such as the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, which encompasses the NWHI.
We thank the NOAA ship Hi’ialakai for logistical support. L. Giuseffi, M. Winston, S. Matadobra, S. Jones, H. Owen, G. McFall, J. Copus, and R. Coleman assisted with diving and small boat operations. K. Fujii and J. Lecky assisted with figure preparation. Field work was conducted under Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument research permit PMNM-2015-029 issued to R. Kosaki.
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