Diel Variation in the Fish Fauna of a Tropical Seagrass Feeding Ground
Abstract:A diver-operated encircling net was used to quantify diel variation in the fish fauna present in the tropical, Thalassia-dominated, seagrass meadow of Tague Bay, St. Croix. Diel variation in fish density was evident at the familial level, and for the major species found, accurately represented patterns of feeding activity. Small, permanently resident grass bed fishes characterized the diurnal fish community with parrotfishes (Scaridae) and wrasses (Labridae) dominating. At night, grunts (Haemulidae), squirrelfishes (Holocentridae) and cardinal fishes (Apogonidae) were the dominant active fishes. A twilight changeover, similar to that observed among fishes on coral reefs, marked the transition between these day and night seagrass fish communities.
The seagrass bed served as an important feeding ground for coral reef fishes. Fifteen species (51% of the nocturnal collection) moved from diurnal resting sites to feed over seagrass at night. More than 87% of these nocturnal visitors (10 species) were primary coral reef fishes, representing 79% of the fishes actively feeding in the grass bed at night. Resources of shelter and food, represented by the coral reef during the day, and the seagrass meadow at night, respectively, were important in structuring this seagrass fish fauna.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: May 1, 1984
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