Comparison between two sampling methods to evaluate the structure of fish communities in the littoral zone of a Laurentian lake
The results of beach seining were compared with visual surveys, in habitats showing a gradient of macrophyte densities in Lake Drouin, Québec, Canada. Six community descriptors (species density, total fish density, relative abundance per species, presence or absence of given species, size structure of the fish community and total biomass of the fish community) were used to compare the sampling methods. Most of the fish community descriptors obtained by visual surveys were estimated with an accuracy similar to that of beach seining. Both methods sampled the same number of species (eight out of nine). Visual surveys assessed the relative abundance of the yellow perch Perca flavescens and white sucker Catostomus commersoni with an higher accuracy than the beach seine. The greatest discrepancies between the two sampling methods were for total fish density and the total fish biomass. Because of the sampling strategy, both descriptors were underestimated by visual surveys, notably in the higher macrophyte density. In a broad community survey to determine the relative importance of species abundance, the visual survey was effective and could be used to develop a within‐lake regular and fine‐scale sampling design of the spatial arrangement of fish communities and their habitats.
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