Overview of the Dynamics of an Urban Artificial Reef Fish Assemblage at King Harbor, California, USA, 1974–1991: A Recruitment Driven System
Abstract:Since 1974, the Vantuna Research Group has been studying the fish assemblage on and adjacent to the artificial breakwaters at King Harbor, California. Sampling includes diver transects, ichthyoplankton tows, and air lift/quinaldene samples of settling recruits. During this 18-year study, two natural environmental events, the El Niños of 1977–1979, 1982–1984 and destructive storm waves of winter 1988 have affected the assemblage. The change in water temperature in 1977 resulted in a significant change in species composition while the other events primarily affected abundance. Additionally, the reconstruction of the breakwater and dredging of the harbor in 1989 strongly affected the reproductive success of some species. Though, except during the above cited events, species number and overall fish abundance has remained relatively stable over the study period, individual species have fluctuated widely in abundance. Much of this fluctuation is the result of variable annual recruitment. The relationship between recruitment and various environmental factors are analyzed for a number of selected species which differ in life history and reproductive strategies. Even in the face of significant annual mortality from adult fish entrapment and larval entrainment by the Southern California Edison (SCE) intakes, the King Harbor breakwater continues to support a fish assemblage, more diverse and abundant than a natural reef/kelp bed at Palos Verdes Point that has been surveyed over the same period. A well designed breakwater can be an exceptional fish habitat.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: September 1, 1994
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