Theses and Dissertations


Title: THE INFLUENCE OF HABITAT COMPLEXITY ON REEF FISH COMMUNITIES IN THE NORTHEASTERN GULF OF MEXICO

Name: Lingo, Mark E.

Degree: MS

Chair: Stephen T. Szedlmayer

Resides:

University: Auburn University

Location: Auburn, Alabama

Date: 2003

Pages: 77

Keywords: Reef Fish

Abstract:

Several previous studies have attempted to correlate habitat complexity and reef fish species diversity. For the most part, these studies have examined natural reef systems with conflicting results. To study this relation further, 220 experimental reefs were built during the summers of 2001 and 2002 at two different sites in the northern Gulf of Mexico. In 2001, we identified 31 fish species. The dominant species was red snapper, Lutjanus campechanus (42%), followed by rock sea bass, Centropristis philadelphica (22%), and sand perch, Diplectrum formosum (15%). Most fish were juveniles, but included most of the reef fishes common to larger reef structure in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Species diversity was significantly greater on the caged block habitats (H' = 1.68) compared with the shell habitats (H' = 1.34). In 2002 we identified 36 species. The dominant species was tomtate, Haemulon aurolineatum (35%), followed by sand perch, (19%), and red snapper (13%). Species diversity was significantly greater on the pyramid block habitats (higher complexity, H' = 1.69) compared with the cage habitats (H' = 0.69). Although community structure varied among survey sites and study years, complexity did affect reef fish species diversity.

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