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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 692:99-118 (2022)  -  DOI:

Characterization and spatial variation of the deep-sea fish assemblages on Pioneer Bank, Northwestern Hawaiian Islands

Beatriz E. Mejía-Mercado, Amy R. Baco*

Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science, Florida State University, EOAS Building, 1011 Academic Way, Tallahassee, Florida 32306, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Knowledge of the spatial variation of deep-sea fish assemblages is a critical gap in understanding seamount ecology. Pioneer Bank in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (Hawaii, USA) has a history of hook-and-line fishing but not trawling; thus, it is a good location to further describe deep-sea fish assemblages. From replicated autonomous underwater vehicle transects at 300, 450, and 600 m on 3 sides of Pioneer Bank, we observed 4190 fish representing 81 species. Fish assemblages were dominated by Gadiformes, Perciformes, and Stomiiformes. The relative abundance of fish was significantly different among sides of the seamount and the interaction of side and depth, with the NW side having the highest relative abundance at 450 m. Species richness, rarefaction estimates of expected species richness, Shannon diversity, and Simpson dominance showed significant differences by side, but not by depth. These differences were between the S and NW sides, with the S side having the lowest diversity and high dominance. The structure of the fish assemblage was significantly different among both sides and depths, with depth as the most important factor. Fish assemblage structure was most strongly correlated with salinity, % rugosity, chlorophyll a, and mean direction of substrate. These scales of spatial variability both with depth and across short horizontal distances on a single seamount are similar to those found on nearby Necker Island, which reaffirms the spatial heterogeneity in deep-sea fish assemblages on seamounts. This study provides an ecological baseline for the management and conservation of seamounts.

KEY WORDS: Fish community structure · Seamounts · Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument · Patterns of distribution

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Cite this article as: Mejía-Mercado BE, Baco AR (2022) Characterization and spatial variation of the deep-sea fish assemblages on Pioneer Bank, Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 692:99-118.

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