An analysis of fish‐habitat associations on disturbed coral reefs: chaetodontid fishes in New Caledonia
A concordance analysis was used to study the simultaneous influence of several environmental data sets on chaetodontid (butterflyfish) distributions. This multivariate and multitable method enabled the correlation of three types of benthic characteristics (mineral substratum, coverage of structural species and large echinoderms) with butterflyfish abundances in two bays of the urban centre of Nouméa (New Caledonia). The first concordance axis was related to a gradient in the coverage of branching corals. This disturbance gradient compared damaged reef areas dominated by long‐spined sea urchins to areas with an extensive coverage of branching corals. The abundance of corallivorous chaetodontids was related to this gradient, supporting the view of corals as a food and shelter source for these fishes. The second concordance axis was interpreted as a gradient of heterogeneity in the coverage of benthic life‐forms. The abundance of omnivorous chaetodontids was related to this gradient. Thus, the concordance axes defined two key components of habitat structure that were related to the entire fish community structure.
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