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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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Nearshore waters support potentially adaptive ontogenetic habitat shifts, which are disrupted by shoreline armoring that eliminate shallows (Diagram: S. Munsch)

Munsch SH, Cordell JR, Toft JD


Fine-scale habitat use and behavior of a nearshore fish community: nursery functions, predation avoidance, and spatiotemporal habitat partitioning

Nearshore ecosystems are thought to provide nursery functions to fish. However, our understanding of fish behaviour and habitat use in these systems is limited, especially on fine along shore scales. Munsch and colleagues observed fish underwater, and examined context-dependent behaviours and spatiotemporal habitat partitioning. Fish behaved consistently with adaptive decisions to balance maximum habitat use with predation avoidance (e.g. schooling, depth selection), and species partitioned waters by depth and month. Overall, habitat use was suggestive of nursery functions and dynamics, including ontogenetic habitat shifts, provision of predator refuge, and appropriate feeding/predation risk tradeoffs. Some nursery functions appeared to be mediated by a shallow depth gradient, which may be compromised by shoreline infrastructure and rising sea levels along built waterfronts.


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