Monitoring communities of fish is important for the management and sustainability of fisheries and marine ecosystems. Baited remote underwater video systems (BRUVs) are among the most effective nondestructive techniques for sampling bony fishes and elasmobranchs (sharks, rays, and skates).
However, BRUVs sample visually conspicuous biota; hence, some taxa are undersampled or not recorded at all. We compared the diversity of fishes characterized using BRUVs with diversity detected via environmental DNA (eDNA) metabarcoding. We sampled seawater and captured BRUVs imagery at 48
locales that included reef and seagrass beds inside and outside a marine reserve (Jurien Bay in Western Australia). Eighty‐two fish genera from 13 orders were detected, and the community of fishes described using eDNA and BRUVs combined yielded >30% more generic richness than when
either method was used alone. Rather than detecting a homogenous genetic signature, the eDNA assemblages mirrored the BRUVs’ spatial explicitness; differentiation of taxa between seagrass and reef was clear despite the relatively small geographical scale of the study site (∼35 km2).
Taxa that were not sampled by one approach, due to limitations and biases intrinsic to the method, were often detected with the other. Therefore, using BRUVs and eDNA in concert provides a more holistic view of vertebrate marine communities across habitats. Both methods are noninvasive, which
enhances their potential for widespread implementation in the surveillance of marine ecosystems.
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