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MEPS
Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 427:259-274 (2011)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps08945

Patterns of scale-dependency and the influence of map resolution on the seascape ecology of reef fish

Matthew S. Kendall1,*, Thomas J. Miller2, Simon J. Pittman1,3

1National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration Biogeography Branch, 1305 East West Highway, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910, USA
2Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, PO Box 38, Solomons, Maryland 20688, USA
3National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration Biogeography Branch, Marine Science Center, University of the Virgin Islands, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands 00802, USA

ABSTRACT: Detection and perception of ecological relationships between biota and their surrounding habitats is sensitive to analysis scale and resolution of habitat data. We measured strength of univariate linear correlations between reef fish and seascape variables at multiple spatial scales (25 to 800 m). Correlation strength was used to identify the scale that best associates fish to their surrounding habitat. To evaluate the influence of map resolution, seascape variables were calculated based on 4 separate benthic maps produced using 2 levels of spatial and thematic resolution, respectively. Individual seascape variables explained only 25% of the variability in fish distributions. Length of reef edge was correlated with more aspects of the fish assemblage than other features. Area of seagrass and bare sand correlated with distribution of many fish, not just obligate users. No fish variables correlated with habitat diversity. Individual fish species achieved a wider range of correlations than mobility guilds or the entire fish assemblage. Scales of peak correlation were the same for ­juveniles and adults in a majority of comparisons. Highly mobile species exhibited broader scales of peak correlation than either resident or moderately mobile fish. Use of different input maps changed perception of the strength and even the scale of peak correlations for many comparisons involving hard bottom edge length and area of sand, whereas results were consistent regardless of map type for comparisons involving area of seagrass and habitat diversity.


KEY WORDS: Landscape ecology · Scale · Coral reef · Home range · Habitat


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Cite this article as: Kendall MS, Miller TJ, Pittman SJ (2011) Patterns of scale-dependency and the influence of map resolution on the seascape ecology of reef fish. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 427:259-274. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps08945

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