The Relationship Between Habitat Structure, Body Size and Distribution of Fishes at a Temperate Artificial Reef
We examined the distributions and body sizes of fishes relative to prescribed microhabitat strata at Pendleton Artificial Reef (PAR), San Diego County, California. Three intensive surveys were conducted (November 1986–January 1987) to enumerate fishes by life stages (juvenile, subadult, adult). Major microhabitats were crest and slope strata on modules (rock substratum), and ecotone (sand-rock interface) and sand strata off modules. Four sand strata were surveyed on transects that extended radially outward from module ecotones with each stratum corresponding to a specified, increasing concentric distance from a module perimeter. Size-frequency distributions of fishes were determined by estimating fish lengths in situ on complementary surveys; length-weight regressions were used to calculate weighted mean species-by-life stage body weights, from which biomass densities and body sizes were derived. In general, numerical and biomass densities of fishes were higher in rock microhabitats than over ecotone and sand regions. Mean individual fish body sizes (weights) were greater over the ecotone and sand. Recruitment by young-of-year of the pomacentrid Chromis punctipinnis to crest and slope strata, and the occurrence of the serranid Paralabrax nebulifer on the ecotone and sand, greatly affected overall densities. In addition, life-stage differences among strata occurred for eight of nine select species examined. Given that recruitment by young-of-year fishes can be extremely variable, numerical density patterns among strata at PAR may change over time, while biomass densities should remain relatively unaffected. The interrelationships of numerical density, biomass density, and body size suggest that juveniles and small-bodied fishes have more specialized habitat requirements (greater need for shelter) than do large-bodied fishes or older life stages.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 1989-03-01
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