Mesophotic (30–150 m) reef fish assemblages in the ‘Au‘au Channel, between the Hawaiian Islands of Maui and Lāna‘i, were compared visually with neighboring shallow (<30 m depth) reef fish assemblages for differences in structure. Between 2007 and 2011, approximately 7000 mesophotic and 4000 shallow reef fishes were identified, sized (standard length), and assigned to seven foraging guilds. The shallow water zone had more species than the mesophotic zone (99 vs 80, respectively). Mesophotic planktivores and two herbivore species were significantly larger than their shallow reef counterparts. Shallow reef fish assemblages had a higher Chao1 estimated species richness for herbivores and corallivores but not the other five foraging guilds. The differences between mesophotic and shallow fish assemblages indicate that both have unique communities of high conservation importance.
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NOAA NMFS Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center 1845 Wasp Blvd. Building 176, Honolulu, Hawaii, 96818-5007
Hawaii Pacific University, 41-202 Kalaniana‘ole Highway, Waimanalo, Hawaii, 96795
Appeared or available online: April 21, 2020