Assessing reef fish assemblage structure: how do different stereo-video techniques compare?
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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.
KeywordsFish Assemblage Scuba Diver Fish Assemblage Structure Tabulate Coral Underwater Visual Census
This study was conducted with logistical assistance from the Department of Fisheries Western Australia. Financial assistance was received from The University of Western Australia and from the Australian Government through the Northern Agricultural Catchment Council (NACC). This study forms part of a Western Australian Marine Science Institution (WAMSI) project to assist with the implementation of an Ecosystem Approach to the management of fisheries resources. We would like to thank SONY Australia and R. Scott in the UWA workshop for construction of the stereo-video systems. We greatly appreciate the help by Dr. B. Hutchins in identifying numerous fish species.
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