Resistance of coral reef fishes in back reef and lagoon habitats to a hurricane
Abstract:On 17 November 1999, hurricane Lenny passed 30 km south of St. Croix, U.S.V.I. Six sites on the east end of St. Croix (four north shore sites, two south shore sites) had been visually censused in June and October 1999, prior to hurricane Lenny, and were censused again in February, June, and October 2000, and in February 2001. The two south shore sites, where hurricane damage was greatest, were also censused in December 1999 to obtain measurements of short-term hurricane effects. Densities of Stegastes leucostictus (Müller and Troschel in Schomburgk, 1848), Halichoeres bivittatus (Bloch 1791), and all species combined of two different sizes (< and > 5 cm) and on different habitats at exposed (south shore) and protected (north shore) sites were examined for short-term and long-term hurricane effects. Despite extensive hurricane-associated damage to habitats at the two exposed sites, fishes seemed resistant to hurricane effects in the short-term: there were no detectable hurricane effects on fishes in any size class in any habitat examined. In the long-term, normal seasonal changes were most influential in determining densities of small fishes for all taxa examined, and large fishes showed little temporal variation. Given the frequency of hurricanes passing close to St. Croix, the resistance of coral reef fishes to a hurricane should not be surprising.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2004-07-01
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