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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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Habitat condition and reef position near islands or headlands were key predictors for fish community structure on shallow rocky reefs. Photo: Chris Fulton

Quaas Z, Harasti D, Gaston TF, Platell ME, Fulton CJ


Influence of habitat condition on shallow rocky reef fish community structure around islands and headlands of a temperate marine protected area


We used miniature-baited remote underwater videos (mini-BRUVs), combined with microhabitat assessments, to evaluate shallow reef fish community structure within a temperate marine park in Australia. Differences were assessed between spatial management zones (no-take versus fished), seasons and benthic habitat condition around coastal islands and headlands. We found a strong effect of microhabitat condition on fish community structure, with site-level cover of canopy-forming macroalgae among islands and headlands influencing species occurrence and abundance in ways that transcended marine protected area zoning. We suggest that balancing habitat condition and reef setting (islands, headlands) is paramount in marine park management to assist with the conservation and management of shallow-water reef fish assemblages.


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