Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 86, Issue 2, pp 311–319 | Cite as

Habitat structure affect abundances of labrid fishes across temperate reefs in south-western Australia

  • Fernando TuyaEmail author
  • Thomas Wernberg
  • Mads S. Thomsen


We tested the effect of reef complexity (number of small vs. large topographic elements,<1 m and >1 m, respectively), and composition of macroalgae (cover of the kelp Ecklonia radiata, fucalean and red algae) on the abundance patterns of labrid fishes across ~800 km of coastline in south-western Australia. Fishes and habitat attributes were visually counted at 12 reefs visited at four times over 1 year. Five labrids (Austrolabrus maculatus, Coris auricularis, Notolabrus parilus, Ophthalmolepis lineolata and Pseudolabrus biseralis) were frequently observed (>20% of counts), while three species (Bodianus axillaris, Choerodon rubescens and Thalassoma lutescens) were rarely censused (< 6%). Patterns of abundance were generally affected by two descriptors of the habitat structure: the number of small topographic elements (100 m−2), and the percentage of red algal cover. Most species showed a tendency for an increase in their abundances with an increase in the number of small topographic elements and cover of red algae. The patterns likely reflect an underlying correlation between habitat structure and prey accessibility and lowered predation risk.


Habitat structure Fish Abundance Spatial distribution Temperate reefs Western Australia 



This research was funded by an Australian Research Council Discovery grant (DP0555929) to Thomas Wernberg. Fernando Tuya was supported by a postdoctoral research fellowship within the framework ‘Plan de Formación y Perfeccionamiento’ of the Spanish Ministry of Education and Sciences, and Mads. S. Thomsen was supported by a postdoctoral fellowship from The Danish Research Academy. Four anonymous reviewers provided positive comments on previous drafts.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fernando Tuya
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Thomas Wernberg
    • 2
    • 3
  • Mads S. Thomsen
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.CIIMARPortoPortugal
  2. 2.Centre for Marine Ecosystems ResearchEdith Cowan UniversityJoondalupAustralia
  3. 3.School of Plant BiologyThe University of Western AustraliaPerthAustralia
  4. 4.Department of Marine EcologyNational Environmental Research InstitutionRoskildeDenmark

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