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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 318:1-18 (2006)  -  doi:10.3354/meps318001

Mangroves as fish habitat: 50 years of field studies

Craig H. Faunce1,3,*, Joseph E. Serafy1,2

1Division of Marine Biology and Fisheries, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami, 4600 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, Florida 33149, USA
2Southeast Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, 75 Virginia Beach Drive, Miami, Florida 33149, USA
3Present address: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, Tequesta Field Laboratory, 19100 SE Federal Highway, Tequesta, Florida 33469, USA

ABSTRACT: Mangroves dominate undisturbed natural shorelines of many sub-tropical and tropical regions, yet their utilization by fishes is poorly understood. To provide the first comprehensive list of empirical field studies for comparative and reference purposes, we assembled and quantified aspects of 111 mangrove-fish surveys published between 1955 and 2005. Differences in the location, purpose, methodology, data gathered, and analyses performed among studies have resulted in a fragmented literature making cross-study comparisons difficult, at best. Although the number of published studies has increased over time, a geographical bias in the literature has persisted towards studies performed in the USA and Australia, and against studies performed in Southeast Asia and West Africa. The typical survey design has examined <10 fixed locations on a monthly or bimonthly basis for a period of less than 2 yr. Water temperature and salinity measurements have been the most reported habitat variables; others, such as structural and landscape measures, continue to be rare. Moreover, the focus to date has been on identifying assemblage-level patterns of fish use, with very few studies providing species-specific estimates of abundance, growth, mortality, and secondary production. Unless future studies strive towards obtaining such estimates, gauging the importance of mangroves as fish habitat and their broader contribution to ecosystem diversity and production will remain elusive.

KEY WORDS: Fishes · Essential fish habitat · Mangroves · Nursery · Review

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