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End-of-season counts offish recruits (young-of-the-year) on one nearshore, three mid-shelf and one outer shelf reef on the central Great Barrier Reef (GBR) over 2 years were compared to estimates of settlement based on 4 six-weekly censuses of the same sites in each year. The end-of-season
recruitment surveys yielded relative patterns of recruitment between years and among reefs that were remarkably close to those determined from the six-weekly counts. For 23 out of 24 species examined, there was a significant correlation between the net total gain of recruits, determined from
the six-weekly counts, and the number of recruits censused at the end of the season. We conclude that end-of-year recruitment surveys are a robust technique for determining relative patterns of early post-settlement distributions among reefs and between years in the central GBR. Most of the
species censused, primarily pomacentrids and labrids, have relatively low post-settlement mortality rates. This, and annual recruitment patterns on the GBR which tend to be the result of a few very discrete pulses of settlement, often coherent over large distances, are likely to be the key
to the success of the technique.
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