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The influence of natural cycles on coral reef fish movement: implications for underwater visual census (UVC) surveys

Abstract

Movement patterns of some coral reef fishes change with natural cycles (e.g., tidal, lunar and seasonal), resulting in short-term shifts in fish assemblages. We reviewed the literature on temporal changes in coral reef fish assemblages derived from underwater visual census (UVC) and found that movement was rarely considered in experimental design and analysis or as cause of change in interpretation of the results. Studies of vagile species, large individuals, species forming transient spawning aggregations and studies of fishes in contiguous habitats are most likely to be affected by such movements. Ignoring predictable patterns of movement associated with such natural cycles in survey design and analysis increases “unexplained” variation, making it more difficult to detect longer-term changes in fish assemblages and reducing the effectiveness of UVC as a monitoring tool.

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Acknowledgments

We thank NAJ Graham for providing helpful comments on earlier versions of this manuscript. The manuscript was improved by comments from the Topic Editor and two anonymous reviewers. This publication was made possible through support provided by the IRD–DSF to JPB.

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Correspondence to J. P. Bijoux.

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Communicated by Biology Editor Dr. Hugh Sweatman

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Bijoux, J.P., Dagorn, L., Gaertner, JC. et al. The influence of natural cycles on coral reef fish movement: implications for underwater visual census (UVC) surveys. Coral Reefs 32, 1135–1140 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00338-013-1075-4

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00338-013-1075-4

Keywords

  • Fish movement
  • Temporal change
  • Coral reef fishes
  • Short-term natural cycles
  • Underwater visual census