Defense Date

12-10-2021

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Type

Master of Science

Degree Name

Marine Science

First Advisor

Paul Arena, Ph.D

Second Advisor

Rosanna Boyle, Ph.D

Third Advisor

Brian Walker, Ph.D

Abstract

Mesophotic coral ecosystems, or MCEs, are coral ecosystems at approximately 30-150m depths and represent the transitional zone where benthic organisms rely less on photosynthesis and more on filter-feeding or other feeding habits in order to sustain themselves. Fish assemblages in MCE’s have been poorly studied and may possibly provide a connection to shallow water reefs (SWR’s). Mesophotic reef fish communities from 32-37 m depths were assessed using video footage recorded by a remotely operated vehicle (ROV). Video transects were performed at three locations: unburied areas north and south of Port Everglades, as well as an area which experienced burial from dredging material produced during the creation of Port Everglades at the turn of the 20th century.

The results of this research are significant as they have added to a large data gap which existed concerning local MCE fish communities. Results showed evidence of shallow water reef overlap to the upper mesohphotic zone as well as novelties regarding ROV sampling. Additionally, baited versus un-baited ROV transects showed no significant difference in fish assemblages. Particularly, this information provides insight into the connectivity of MCEs to SWRs, as well as long term differences of fish assemblages in areas buried by dredge materials. Local MCE administrators may now utilize this data to more efficiently manage these deeper environments which have previously relied only on SWR data.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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