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Effects of a harmful algal bloom on the community ecology, movements and spatial distributions of fishes in a microtidal estuary

Hallett, C.S.ORCID: 0000-0002-8844-3388, Valesini, F.J., Clarke, K.R. and Hoeksema, S.D. (2016) Effects of a harmful algal bloom on the community ecology, movements and spatial distributions of fishes in a microtidal estuary. Hydrobiologia, 763 (1). pp. 267-284.

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Harmful algal blooms can adversely affect fish communities, though their impacts are highly context-dependent and typically differ between fish species. Various approaches, comprising univariate and multivariate analyses and multimetric Fish Community Indices (FCI), were employed to characterise the perceived impacts of a Karlodinium veneficum bloom on the fish communities and ecological condition of the Swan Canning Estuary, Western Australia. The combined evidence suggests that a large proportion of the more mobile fish species in the offshore waters of the bloom-affected area relocated to other regions during the bloom. This was indicated by marked declines in mean species richness, catch rates and FCI scores in the bloom region but concomitant increases in these characteristics in more distal regions, and by pronounced and atypical shifts in the pattern of inter-regional similarities in fish community composition during the bloom. The lack of any significant changes among the nearshore fish communities revealed that bloom impacts were less severe there than in deeper, offshore waters. Nearshore habitats, which generally are in better ecological condition than adjacent offshore waters in this system, may provide refuges for fish during algal blooms and other perturbations, mirroring similar observations of fish avoidance responses to such stressors in estuaries worldwide.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Centre for Fish and Fisheries Research
Publisher: Kluwer Academic Publishers
Copyright: © Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015
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