Seasonal rhythm in a Mediterranean coastal fish community as monitored by a cabled observatory
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To adequately describe seasonal rhythms in habitat utilization by fish communities, observations are needed that occur at a relatively high frequency and over large temporal windows. For the first time, images collected from a cabled video-observatory (the western Mediterranean expandable SEAfloor OBservatory; OBSEA) were utilized to examine habitat utilization by coastal fishes. Over the course of a year, hourly digital images of the water column and an artificial reef were obtained during daylight hours. For each image, the total number of species, an estimate of the abundance of individuals, and the Shannon Diversity Index were quantified. A total of 22 fish species commonly associated with nearshore western Mediterranean habitats were identified, and significant spatial (water column vs. artificial reef), seasonal (spring, summer, autumn, and winter), and daily (morning, midday, and sunset) differences in habitat utilization occurred. Four species (Diplodus vulgaris, Diplodus cervinus, Diplodus sargus, and Scorpaena porcus) were associated with the artificial reef, while one species (Pagrus pagrus) chiefly occurred in the water column. Chromis chromis and Diplodus annularis occurred at the site more frequently in the winter and autumn, respectively, while 14 other species utilized the site more frequently in either the spring (8 spp) or summer (6 spp). In addition, Dentex dentex and Spicara maena occurred more frequently at sunset, while D. cervinus displayed a crepuscular rhythm (occurring more frequently in the morning and at sunset). Species diversity was highest in the summer and lowest in the winter. If not taken into account when planning in situ sampling, such seasonal and/or diel differences may lead to spurious estimates of population sizes and biodiversity. We suggest that cabled video-observatories offer a non-invasive and reliable technology for faunistic sampling and population assessment in coastal water of the Mediterranean and likely elsewhere.
CitationCondal, F. [et al.]. Seasonal rhythm in a Mediterranean coastal fish community as monitored by a cabled observatory. "Marine biology", 23 Agost 2012, p. 1-9.