Marine Biology

, Volume 153, Issue 6, pp 1233–1244 | Cite as

The effect of predation on artificial reef juvenile demersal fish species

  • Francisco LeitãoEmail author
  • Miguel N. Santos
  • Karim Erzini
  • Carlos Costa Monteiro
Research Article


There is a concern that artificial reefs (AR) may act purely as fishing aggregation devices. Predators attracted to ARs can influence the distribution and abundance of prey fish species. Determining the role of predators in AR is important in advancing the understanding of community interactions. This paper documents the effects of predation on fish assemblages of AR located near a coastal lagoon fish nursery. The Dicentrarchus labrax is a very opportunistic species preying on juveniles (0+ and 1+ age classes) of several demersal fish species on the ARs. Reef prey and sea bass abundance were negatively correlated. The mean numbers of prey per sea bass stomach increased with the increase of reef fish prey abundance, suggesting that predation has a significant influence, resulting in a decrease in prey abundance. Prey mortality (4–48%) of demersal reef fish associated species depends on bass density. Prey selection was related both with prey abundance and vulnerability. Results showed that D. labrax predation on AR-fish associated species can increase prey natural mortality. However, the role of bass predation on the ecological functioning of exploited ARs is not clear. There may be increases in local fishing yields due either to an increase in predator biomass through aggregation of sea bass attracted to ARs or to greater production. In contrast, predation on juveniles of economically important reef fish preys, especially the most frequent and abundant (Boops boops), can contribute to a decrease in recruitment to the fishery. Our results indicate that inter-specific interactions (predator–prey) are important in terms of conservation and management, as well as for the evaluation of the long-term effects of reef deployment. Thus, it is necessary to consider ecological interactions, such as predation, prior to the development and deployment of artificial habitats as a tool for rehabilitation.


Prey Species Reef Fish Artificial Reef Reef Fish Species Reef Fish Assemblage 
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.



We would like to thank Pedro Lino, Alexandra Garcia, João Cúrdia and Miguel Gaspar for their help during data collection. The first author is supported by a PhD grant from the Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (SFRH/BD/10486/2002). This study was funded in part by the MARE program, within the project Implantação e estudo integrado de sistemas recifais. We would also like to thank Dr. Sean D. Connell and two other anonymous referees for their comments that contributed greatly to improve the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francisco Leitão
    • 1
    Email author
  • Miguel N. Santos
    • 1
  • Karim Erzini
    • 2
  • Carlos Costa Monteiro
    • 1
  1. 1.Centro Regional de Investigação Pesqueira do Sul (CRIPSul)IPIMAROlhãoPortugal
  2. 2.Centro de Ciências do Mar (CCMAR)Universidade do AlgarveCampus de GambelasPortugal

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