Marine & Environmental Sciences Faculty Proceedings, Presentations, Speeches, Lectures


Corridors And Recruitment Of Coral Reef Fishes

Event Name/Location

11th International Coral Reef Symposium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, July 7-11, 2008

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Ontogenetic shifts in habitat utilization from mangroves to coral reefs are known to occur in several species of tropical fishes. If such habitat shifts are important for reef fish production then identifiable linkages between the two habitats should exist in the form of migration corridors. A corridor in this case is defined as an area of specific bathymetry and salinity that links accessible mangrove habitats to the reefs through breaks in the outlying barrier islands. Investigation of this connection will provide information about a transition stage in the life history of reef fishes that is not well known. This is especially pertinent given the ongoing encroachment of human populations in Southeast Florida resulting in loss of suitable mangrove habitats. Dredging and other operations that alter bottom topography or flow regimes could also prove harmful. Data for this study comes from the Mangrove Visual Census (J. Serafy, NOAA Fisheries) and the Reef Visual Census (J. Bohnsack, NOAA Fisheries) in which field observations were taken of several reef fishes over a multi-year period. Utilizing ubiquitous species as examples (Scarus guacamaia, Haemulon parra, Lutjanus apodus, Lutjanus griseus, Gerres cinereus, and Abudefduf saxatilis), we will explore a correlation between the distance from island channels and the relative abundances of these species on the reefs. To assess proximity and accessibility of mangroves, measures of through-the-water distance, distance from shoreline, hypothesized migratory routes, and channel viability will be used. With this information, more informed policy and conservation decisions can be made in order to preserve the areas that are most critical to the continued survival and health of tropical fishes.



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