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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 613:125-138 (2019)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12883

Debunking paradigms in estuarine fish species richness

Adam Waugh1,2,*, Michael Elliott2, Anita Franco2

1Environment Agency, Kingfisher House, Orton Way, Peterborough PE2 5ZR, UK
2Institute of Estuarine & Coastal Studies, University of Hull, Hull HU6 7RX, UK
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The comparison of species complements within and between habitats and geographical areas is a fundamental aspect of ecological assessments. However, many influences resulting from variability in sampling and data analysis often hinder the ability to determine important patterns in community structure. The study is based on the hypothesis that, using a standard sampling method, an asymptote in the rarefaction curve represents the total (gear-specific) species complement likely to be encountered for the geographical area. Accordingly, an asymptotic species richness estimator was used to predict the full complement of species present within each estuary that could be caught using seine netting. The rarefaction curves and species richness estimator enabled the interrogation of 2 underlying paradigms of ecological species richness: the species-latitude relationship and the species-area relationship. This analysis revealed distinct groups which showed a significant relationship with latitude and size, although the size effect had a smaller influence. In particular, the species-latitude relationship paradigm held true in this study while the species-area relationship paradigm only applied when latitude was considered concomitantly. Marine species in particular appeared to account for the increased fish species number at lower latitudes. The underlying influence of latitude and estuary size suggests that any managerial tool that explores anthropogenic impacts (such as those used in the European Water Framework Directive) should include these aspects. This analysis gives environmental managers an objective cost-beneficial method of identifying when and where further sampling does not give further information for management.


KEY WORDS: Seine netting · Rarefaction curves · Fish species richness · Species-latitude relationship · Species-area relationship


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Cite this article as: Waugh A, Elliott M, Franco A (2019) Debunking paradigms in estuarine fish species richness. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 613:125-138. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12883

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