Linking deep-water corals and fish populations
The role of emergent fauna as physical habitat used by fish populations has been examined for a number of fish species in deep-water environments. Deep-water corals have been a central focus of such work during the past decade due to their sensitivity to human disturbance, slow recovery rates, and limited distribution. Some authors have suggested corals are important for mediating population processes of fishes while others have demonstrated minimal associations of fishes with corals. Further, the co-occurrence of fishes with corals does not necessarily mean there is a functional link to population processes. Expanded observational studies that include corals as well as non-coral features as shelter, sources of benthic prey, and sites with accelerated flows to enhance zooplankton prey delivery, are required to better understand the role that deepwater corals play in mediating the distribution and abundance of fishes. Studies are best designed to test a series of alternatives (or predictions) rather than simply testing for cases of no response (i.e., to a null hypothesis). The use of spatial replicates across regions and sampling over daily and seasonal time frames will produce information at space and time scales that can be applied to management of both major taxonomic groups.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: November 1, 2007
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