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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 348:273-284 (2007)  -  DOI:

Using seascape types to explain the spatial patterns of fish in the mangroves of SW Puerto Rico

Simon J. Pittman*, Chris Caldow, Sarah D. Hile, Mark E. Monaco

NOAA/NOS/CCMA Biogeography Team, 1305 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910, USA

ABSTRACT: Many of the most abundant fish species using mangroves in the Caribbean also use other habitat types through daily home range movements and ontogenetic habitat shifts. Few studies, however, have considered the structure of the surrounding seascape when explaining the spatial distribution of fish within mangroves. This study develops an exploratory seascape approach using the geographical location of mangroves and the structure of the surrounding seascape at multiple spatial scales to explain the spatial patterns in fish density and number of species observed within mangroves of SW Puerto Rico. Seascape structure immediately surrounding mangroves was most influential in determining assemblage attributes and the density of juvenile Haemulon flavolineatum, which were significantly higher in mangroves with high seagrass cover (>40%) in close proximity (<100 m) than mangroves with low (<40%) or no adjacent seagrasses. Highest mean density of juvenile Ocyurus chrysurus was found in offshore mangroves, with high seagrass and coral reef cover (>40 and >15%, respectively) in close proximity (<100 m). In contrast, juvenile Lutjanus griseus responded at much broader spatial scales, and with highest density found in extensive onshore mangroves with a large proportion (>40%) of seagrass within 600 m of the mangrove edge. We argue that there is an urgent need to incorporate information on the influence of seascape structure into a wide range of marine resource management activities, such as the identification and evaluation of critical or essential fish habitat, the placement of marine protected areas and the design of habitat restoration projects.

KEY WORDS: Seascape structure · Mangroves · Seagrasses · Coral reef ecosystems · Spatial scale · Fish · Puerto Rico · Caribbean

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Cite this article as: Pittman SJ, Caldow C, Hile SD, Monaco ME (2007) Using seascape types to explain the spatial patterns of fish in the mangroves of SW Puerto Rico. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 348:273-284.

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