MEPS 365:217-232 (2008)  -  doi:10.3354/meps07492

Ontogenetic patterns of habitat use by reef-fish in a Marine Protected Area network: a multi-scaled remote sensing and in situ approach

Delisse M. Ortiz*, Brian N. Tissot

School of Earth and Environmental Science, Washington State University, 14204 NE Salmon Creek Avenue, Vancouver,  Washington 98686-9600, USA

ABSTRACT: A network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) on the west coast of the island of Hawaii (West Hawaii) has been shown to vary in its effectiveness to replenish depleted aquarium fish stocks. To determine the abundance and distribution of habitats needed to better design and manage MPAs in Hawaii, underwater video transects, remote sensing data and a benthic classification scheme were combined to develop a map of reef habitats previously identified as important to the life history of aquarium fish and other reef species. Using these maps, an assessment was conducted to quantify habitat use by different life history stages of the most commonly live-caught aquarium fish, the yellow tang Zebrasoma flavescens, in existing MPAs. Rugosity, small reef features (i.e. percent cover of dominant reef species) and the abundance and size of fish were quantified in 115 circular plots to determine the accuracy of mapping efforts and the distribution of fish life history stages across the reef in 4 MPAs. Visual classification and mapping of habitat types was 93% accurate and consistent with percent cover of substrates quantified at the quadrat level. The different life history stages of yellow tangs were distributed along distinct habitat types in all of the MPAs examined. New recruits and juveniles of the yellow tang showed similar patterns of habitat use among sites and were associating with coral-rich areas and patches of the finger coral Porites compressa. In contrast, the distribution and abundance of adults varied greatly within and among sites. The development of a ground-truthed habitat map allowed a holistic examination of habitat use by yellow tang, including most life history stages, which provides key information for the design of MPAs and the advancement of ecosystem-based management.

KEY WORDS: Habitat mapping · Ontogenetic patterns · Habitat use · Coral reefs · Aquarium fish · Marine Protected Area network

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Cite this article as: 30.06.08 Ortiz DM, Tissot BN (2008) Ontogenetic patterns of habitat use by reef-fish in a Marine Protected Area network: a multi-scaled remote sensing and in situ approach. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 365:217-232

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