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Free Content Reef fish community dynamics on small artificial reefs: the influence of isolation, habitat structure, and biogeography

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The development and dynamics of fish communities on six concrete block reefs in Kona, Hawaii were investigated by visual censuses over 27 months. To examine the influence of habitat isolation, pairs of reefs were constructed in three locations relative to a 370-m2 sand flat. The effect of habitat structure was studied in two of the locations where different types of blocks were used. Comparisons between Kona reefs and similarly structured reefs in other geographic locations were also made.

All reefs were rapidly occupied, primarily by adults from adjacent areas. Species equilibrium was reached shortly after reef construction. Between-census species turnover was high (37.4%) and maximum time of persistence for most species was less than six months. Movement of adult fishes between natural and artificial reefs appeared responsible for the high variability in species composition. Juvenile recruitment was low, averaging less than 1.5 juveniles/reef census and settlement was patchy with a strong element of stochasticity. Social interactions did not appear to influence the pattern of juvenile recruitment. Seasonality in juvenile abundance was evident for several species as well as between-year variability in recruit strength.

Reef location was a significant factor influencing fish communities. Isolation substantially increased the numbers of species, adults, and juveniles occupying the reefs during the day and, to a lesser extent, at night. Species turnover was also significantly lower on one of the isolated reefs. Habitat structure had little effect on the fish communities present during the day but was important at night due to the sheltering preferences of various species. Comparison of the Kona block reefs with those in other geographic locations revealed substantial differences in various aspects of community structure such as species richness, community similarity, and fish abundance. Juvenile recruitment also appeared to be considerably lower on Kona reefs than in a number of other areas. Community dynamics of reef fishes may thus be dependent upon both reef location and geographic area.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1985-03-01

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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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