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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 416:241-254 (2010)  -  DOI:

Tidal influences on fish distributions on tropical eastern Pacific rocky shores (Colombia)

Gustavo Adolfo Castellanos-Galindo1,2,*, Uwe Krumme1, Trevor J. Willis3

1Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology (ZMT), Fahrenheitstr. 6, 28359 Bremen, Germany
2Grupo de Investigación en Ecología Animal, Departamento de Biología, Universidad del Valle, A.A. 25360, Cali, Colombia
3National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research Ltd, PO Box 893, Nelson 7040, New Zealand

ABSTRACT: On coasts with high tidal ranges, fishes regularly establish linkages between subtidal and intertidal habitats via tidal movements, such that the home range incorporates habitat that is only intermittently available. To examine the responses of shallow-water reef fish assemblages to tidal water level changes in a macrotidal area of the tropical eastern Pacific, daytime underwater visual fish surveys were carried out in intertidal and subtidal zones at different tidal stages in Utría National Park, Colombia. Labridae and Pomacentridae were the most abundant families, but species within these families changed between intertidal and subtidal zones. Of 106 species, >70% used the rocky intertidal zone. Benthic opportunistic reef species comprised ca. 85% of the intertidal migrant species, whereas the remaining 15% corresponded to ubiquitous reef and pelagic species. Little variation in subtidal and intertidal fish assemblages was observed between spring and neap tides, but there were large changes detected over the tidal cycle that were attributed to species-specific use of the intertidal zone at high tide. Intertidal fish assemblages comprised a defined subset of species that differed significantly from those of subtidal areas. Rocky intertidal habitats are used only haphazardly by most reef fishes, but a few common species shifted more than 90% of their population into intertidal habitats during high tide, indicating that for those taxa, intertidal habitats provide important foraging opportunities. This may introduce a significant source of local-scale bias to density estimates of subtidal reef fishes, and reef fish monitoring programmes should specifically factor tidal state as a controlling influence in macrotidal areas.

KEY WORDS: Tidal migrations · Rocky intertidal · Reef fishes · Tropical eastern Pacific · Utría

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Cite this article as: Castellanos-Galindo GA, Krumme U, Willis TJ (2010) Tidal influences on fish distributions on tropical eastern Pacific rocky shores (Colombia). Mar Ecol Prog Ser 416:241-254.

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