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Depth and benthic habitat influence shallow and mesophotic predatory fishes on a remote, high-latitude coral reef

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Brown, K, Monk, J ORCID: 0000-0002-1874-0619, Williams, J ORCID: 0000-0002-4173-3855, Carroll, A, Harasti, D and Barrett, N ORCID: 0000-0002-6167-1356 2022 , 'Depth and benthic habitat influence shallow and mesophotic predatory fishes on a remote, high-latitude coral reef' , PLoS ONE, vol. 17, no. 3 , pp. 1-22 , doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0265067.

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Abstract

Predatory fishes on coral reefs continue to decline globally despite playing key roles in ecosystemfunctioning. Remote atolls and platform reefs provide potential refugia for predatorpopulations, but quantitative information on their spatial distribution is required to establishaccurate baselines for ongoing monitoring and conservation management. Current knowledgeof predatory fish populations has been derived from targeted shallow diver-based surveys(Carcharhinus galapagensis) and the protected black rockcod (Epinephelus daemelii)dominated the predator fish assemblage. A higher richness of predator fish specieswas sampled on reef areas north and south of the lagoon. The more exposed southernaspect of the reef supported a different suite of predator fish across mesophotic habitats relativeto the assemblage recorded in the north and lagoonal habitats, a pattern potentiallydriven by differences in hard coral cover. Biomass of predatory fishes in the more shelterednorth habitats was twice that of other areas, predominantly driven by high abundances ofGalapagos shark. This work adds to the growing body of literature highlighting the conservationvalue of isolated oceanic reefs and the need to ensure that lagoon, shallow and mesophotichabitats in these systems are adequately protected, as they support vulnerableecologically and economically important predator fish assemblages.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Brown, K and Monk, J and Williams, J and Carroll, A and Harasti, D and Barrett, N
Keywords: Elizabeth Middleton Reef, Lord Howe, coral, fish, black cod, Galapagos shark, BRUV, biodiversity
Journal or Publication Title: PLoS ONE
Publisher: Public Library of Science
ISSN: 1932-6203
DOI / ID Number: 10.1371/journal.pone.0265067
Copyright Information:

Copyright © 2022 Brown et al. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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