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Comprehensive assessment of shallow surf zone fish biodiversity requires a combination of sampling methods

Yasmina Shah Esmaeili*, Guilherme Nascimento Corte, Helio Herminio Checon, Tauane RaĆ­ssa Cruz Gomes, Jonathan S. Lefcheck, A. Cecilia Zacagnini Amaral, Alexander Turra

*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Surf zones of sandy beaches are crucial environments for numerous fishes but one of the most challenging habitats when it comes to sampling due to high-energy currents and waves. In this study, we compared the efficiency of two methods currently used to sample the biodiversity of shallow surf zone fish communities: the traditional method of beach seine nets and the more recently introduced surf zone Baited Remote Underwater Video Stations (surf-BRUVS). We applied both sampling strategies at 67 sites along 27 sandy beaches with different environmental characteristics in southeastern Brazil. We compared overall abundance, species richness, and β- (turnover) and functional trait diversity recorded from both methods. Our results showed that seine nets captured a higher species richness, greater abundance, functional richness and more functionally singular species than BRUVS, particularly in areas with low wave energy. β-diversity analyses, however, showed a clear difference in assemblage composition detected by each method regardless of environmental conditions, mainly driven by species turnover and variations in abundance. Only seine nets captured small species (<10 cm Total Length) while BRUVS were more effective in recording larger species. Our results suggest that shallow surf-zone assemblages sampled with BRUVS and beach seine nets are almost totally functionally and taxonomically divergent and the application of both methods provide complementary results. Additionally, the non-extractive nature of BRUVS presents an opportunity for sampling vulnerable areas or species. However, when using a single method, researchers should take into consideration each method’s biases and be aware that biodiversity may be underestimated for certain groups.