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Partitioning of marine transition zone reefs among temperate, sub-tropical and tropical fishes is related more to depth and habitat than temperature

Fairclough, D.V. (2021) Partitioning of marine transition zone reefs among temperate, sub-tropical and tropical fishes is related more to depth and habitat than temperature. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 672 . pp. 175-192.

Link to Published Version: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13778
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Abstract

Changes in fish communities as oceans warm and cool and competition for space between established and novel species can be evaluated in biogeographic transition zones such as the west coast of Australia. At ~30° S in this region, a cool anomaly occurred in the 2000s, between marine heatwaves. Over 2 yr of that anomaly, surveyed reef fishes were 57% temperate, 18% sub-tropical and 25% tropical. The most numerous fishes included a wrasse, herring, bullseye, drummer and damselfish. Based on similarities in the composition of fishes, 7 significant clusters of reefs were identified along a gradation from deep, exposed reefs to shallow, protected lagoonal reefs. Endemic sub-tropical and temperate wrasses and damselfishes typified all reefs. Some of these were ubiquitous over exposed and lagoonal reefs and others prevalent in only one reef type, demonstrating habitat preferences and partitioning among closely related species. This was reflected in the differing order of importance of fishes that typified different reefs. Linear modelling indicated that abiotic (depth, distance from shore) and biotic factors (e.g. algae) explained most of the variation in the fish communities among reefs. Additional variation, particularly within lagoonal reefs, was related to relief, turf and corals, rather than water temperature. Occurrence and reproductive activity of a group of tropical/sub-tropical wrasses and damselfish in some lagoonal reefs with abundant tropical habitats (e.g. corals) suggested that they supported novel communities during cool anomalies. Better predictions of future change and interactions between existing and novel species with environmental cycles requires knowledge of species-specific habitat relationships and biology.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: Inter-Research
Copyright: © 2021 Inter-Research.
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/62111
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