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The marine fishes of St. Eustatius, Dutch Caribbean

Abstract

In this paper, the findings are presented of the ichthyofaunal component of the Statia Marine Biodiversity Expedition, 2015. Roving visual surveys were used to rapidly assess presence/absence of fish species at 37 sampling locations within the waters of St. Eustatius, Dutch Caribbean. A total of 206 fish species were observed. Using a species accrual curve, total species richness was estimated to be between 240 and 250. Prior to the expedition, 215 fish species were recorded on St. Eustatius, bringing the total richness to 307 listed species (43 % increase). Of these, 246 were recorded by visual observation and fisheries data. The ichthyofaunal richness of St. Eustatius exceeds the upper estimate of 250 gained from these surveys, highlighting the inadequacies of visual surveys alone. St. Eustatius has comparable levels of species richness to similar-sized islands in the Caribbean. There were significant differences among fish communities in different habitats and depth classes. Further sampling is recommended using a variety of methods in order to produce a more accurate species richness estimate.

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Acknowledgements

This research was funded by Naturalis Biodiversity Centre’s Caribbean research programme. The expedion was co-organised by ANEMOON Foundation. We would like to thank Bert Hoeksema and Niels Schrieken for their support during and after the expedition. We are grateful to the St. Eustatius National Parks Foundation, and to the staff at Scubaqua dive centre for their assistance. Special thanks go to Mike Harterink (Scubaqua), who photographed the longhorn blenny during the expedition, to Erik Boman for sending the photograph of the lemon shark, to James van Tassel for his assistance in identifying several gobiids from photographs, and to the fishermen who kindly allowed us to examine their catches. We also thank our four anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments. Lastly, we thank Pardis Zahedi for her unending support and editing assistance.

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Correspondence to Matthew R. Davies.

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Communicated by B. W. Hoeksema

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Davies, M.R., Piontek, S. The marine fishes of St. Eustatius, Dutch Caribbean. Mar Biodiv 47, 27–35 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12526-016-0575-1

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Keywords

  • Marine fish
  • Biodiversity
  • Roving diver
  • Coral reef