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Does the composition of the demersal fish assemblages in temperate coastal waters change with depth and undergo consistent seasonal changes?

Hyndes, G.A., Platell, M.E., Potter, I.C. and Lenanton, R.C.J. (1999) Does the composition of the demersal fish assemblages in temperate coastal waters change with depth and undergo consistent seasonal changes? Marine Biology, 134 (2). pp. 335-352.

Link to Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s002270050551
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Abstract

The aim of this study was to determine whether the composition of the demersal fish fauna in coastal marine waters in temperate Australia changes markedly with increasing water depth and distance from the shore and whether the composition of the fish fauna in water depths of 5 to 35 m undergoes cyclic, seasonal changes. Samples of demersal fishes were therefore collected by trawling over the predominantly sandy substrate at nine sites located in water depths of 5 to 15 m or 20 to 35 m and within 20 km of the shore in four regions along ~200 km on the lower west coast of Australia. The sampling regime involved trawling for fishes at each site at night in seven consecutive seasons between the summer of 1990/1991 and winter of 1992. A total of 72 435 fishes, representing 77 families, 143 genera and 172 species was caught. The compositions of the fish faunas in offshore waters with depths of 5 to 35 m were shown to differ markedly from those previously recorded for nearshore marine waters in the same regions. However, as some species; such as Sillago burrus, S. vittata, S. bassensis and Rhabdosargus sarba, increase in size, they move out from their nursery areas in nearshore waters into deeper and more offshore waters, where spawning occurs. Ordination showed that, in each of the four regions, the composition of the fish fauna in depths of 5 to 15 m differs from that in depths of 20 to 35 m. This difference is attributable to the fact that some species, such as S. burrus, S. vittata and Upeneichthys lineatus, are far more abundant in depths of 5 to 15 m, whereas other species, such as S. robusta, U. stotti and Lepidotrigla modesta, occur predominantly in depths of 20 to 35 m. However, the samples collected from the single site that was inshore but in deeper water demonstrate that the composition of the fish fauna is influenced by distance from shore as well as by water depth. The compositions of the fish faunas differed with latitude, largely due to the fact that some subtropical species, such as Polyspina piosae, S. burrus and S. robusta, did not extend down into the more southern regions. Ordination also showed that the composition of the fish faunas at all but one of the nine sites underwent pronounced and consistent cyclic, seasonal changes. This seasonal cyclicity at the different sites was attributable to sequential patterns of immigrations and emigrations by a number of fish species during the course of the year. These seasonal migrations involved, inter alia (1) movements of certain species from their nursery areas into these deeper waters, e.g. S. bassensis and Scobinichthys granulatus; (2) migrations into and off the sandy areas of the inner continental shelf, e.g. Arnoglossus muelleri; (3) migrations to spawning areas, e.g. Sillago robusta; and (4) movements into areas where detached macrophytes accumulate in winter, e.g. Cnidoglanis macrocephalus and Apogon rueppellii.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology
Publisher: Springer Verlag
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/17669
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