Patterns of groundfish diversity and abundance in relation to deep-sea coral distributions in Newfoundland and Labrador waters
Abstract:The degree of association between groundfish and corals in Newfoundland and Labrador waters was analyzed on spatial scales of hundreds of kilometers. Groundfish diversity and abundance of ten groundfish species and two invertebrate species were compared with deep-sea coral distributions using standardized stock assessment trawl surveys conducted between September 2003 and October 2005. Standardized trawl survey data were stratified by depth and by five coral classes defined by large gorgonians, small gorgonians, seapens and/or cup corals, soft corals, and absence of all corals. Groundfish species richness was highest in sets containing small gorgonians. Various fish species were most abundant in coral-defined classes in specific depth ranges, but no coral class had significantly higher fish abundances than other coral classes at all depths. For several species, numerical abundance was greatest in one coral class at shallow depth, but wet weight per tow was greatest in a different coral class or depth, or both. Coral-structured environments may be important to fish and crustaceans at different life history stages. Although relationships between corals and groundfish or invertebrates are not obligate and may result from coincidence, conservation areas established for corals may effectively protect populations of groundfish, including some commercial species.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: November 1, 2007
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