Reef fish assemblage and invertebrate cover in relationship to the degree of artificial reef isolation

Reef fishes and invertebrates are quickly losing their habitats due to widespread coral degradation. Artificial reefs are entering the spotlight as alternatives to this problem because they provide marine life with habitats. The role that artificial reefs will play in marine resource management is still unknown, partly because artificial reefs are often overlooked as alternatives due to a lack of knowledge about them. Without the right information on artificial reef placement, the reefs may be used inefficiently. This study focused on how reef fish assemblages and invertebrate coverage can be influenced by artificial reef isolation, distance from the natural reef. This study was conducted in Bonaire, Dutch Caribbean, at the Yellow Sub dive site. Six mooring blocks were visually censused for fish biodiversity and photographed to find percent invertebrate coverage. Three of the blocks were weakly isolated and the other three were strongly isolated from the natural reef. The study took place over a five-week span from September through October 2012. The only significant difference between the weakly and strongly isolated blocks was that there was higher fish abundance on the weakly isolated blocks. Fish biodiversity and percent invertebrate cover did not differ significantly between the two block isolations. A better understanding of what factors allow for more suitable habitats on artificial reefs will contribute to conservation efforts and could increase reef fish and invertebrate biodiversity and abundance.

This student research was retrieved from Physis: Journal of Marine Science XII (Fall 2012)19: 64-72 from CIEE Bonaire.

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