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Open Access Fish assemblages associated with artificial reefs assessed using multiple gear types in the northwest Gulf of Mexico

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Quantitative surveys of fishes associated with artificial reefs in the northwest Gulf of Mexico were conducted over a 4-yr period (2014–2017). Artificial reefs surveyed were comprised of three types: concrete structures, rig jackets, and decommissioned ships. All reefs were surveyed using vertical long line (VLL), fish traps, and Adaptive Resolution Imaging Sonar (ARIS 1800). Mean fish abundance did not significantly differ using VLL [1.7 ind set−1 (SD 2.2)] among the three reef types. However, relative abundance among all fishes collected was significantly highest on rig reefs using traps [6.2 ind soak−1 (SD 3.8)], while results from sonar surveys indicated that the mean relative fish density was highest on concrete reefs [15.3 fish frame−1 (SD 26.8)]. Red snapper (n = 792), followed by gray triggerfish (n = 130), pigfish (n = 70), tomtate (n = 69), and hardhead catfish (n = 57) were the most numerically abundant species using VLL and traps; red snapper comprised 90.7% of total catch using VLL and 43.9% using traps. Mean Brillouin’s diversity (HB) was highest on ships using VLL [0.41 (SD 0.14)] and highest on rigs using traps [0.87 (SD 0.58)] compared to the lowest diversity found on concrete [VLL 0.07 (SD 0.11); traps 0.36 (SD 0.32)]. Findings from this study can be used to inform the planning of future artificial reefs and their effect on the assemblages of reef-associated fishes. Additionally, these results highlight the value of using multiple gear types to survey reef fish assemblages associated with artificial reefs.
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Affiliations: 1: Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843 2: Department of Marine Biology, Texas A&M University at Galveston, Galveston, Texas 77553 3: Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70803 4: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Artificial Reef Program, Austin, Texas 78744

Appeared or available online: February 24, 2020

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