MEPS 367:249-260 (2008)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps07580

Accounting for detectability in reef-fish biodiversity estimates

M. Aaron MacNeil1,6,*, Elizabeth H. M. Tyler2, Chris J. Fonnesbeck3, Steven P. Rushton4, Nicholas V. C. Polunin1, Michael J. Conroy5

1School of Marine Science and Technology, University of Newcastle, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RU, UK
2Zoology Department, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EJ, UK
3Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Otago, PO Box 56, Dunedin, New Zealand
4School of Biology and Psychology, University of Newcastle, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RU, UK
5Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Warnell School of Forest Resources, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30606, USA
6Present address: Australian Institute of Marine Science, PMB 3 Townsville MC, Townsville, Queensland 4810, Australia

ABSTRACT: Assessments of the biodiversity and structure of coral reef fish communities are often plagued by inadequate sampling and biases inherent in commonly used Underwater Visual Census (UVC) methods. Of these biases, heterogeneity in the detectability of reef-fish species is often ignored, even though it may have substantial effects on biodiversity estimates. Using highly replicated UVC sampling of all fish species at 4 sites in Tanzania, East Africa, we show that detectability varies greatly across species and is affected by traits such as body size and schooling behaviour, and that detectability of reef fishes can be readily accounted for by the application of Capture-Mark- Recapture (CMR) models. Based on our results, we recommend that approximately 24 point counts are necessary to assess full reef-fish species richness at sites in the Western Indian Ocean.


KEY WORDS: Mark-recapture · Underwater Visual Census · Coral reefs · Bayesian · Marine reserve


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Cite this article as: MacNeil MA, Tyler EHM, Fonnesbeck CJ, Rushton SP, Polunin NVC, Conroy MJ (2008) Accounting for detectability in reef-fish biodiversity estimates. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 367:249-260. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps07580

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