Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Multispecies presence and connectivity around a designed artificial reef

Krystle Keller A C , James A. Smith A , Michael B. Lowry B , Matthew D. Taylor A B and Iain M. Suthers A

A Evolution and Ecology Research Centre, School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Science, UNSW Australia, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.

B Port Stephens Fisheries Institute, New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, Taylors Beach Road, Taylors Beach, NSW 2316, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email: krystlekeller7@gmail.com

Marine and Freshwater Research - https://doi.org/10.1071/MF16127
Submitted: 8 April 2016  Accepted: 18 January 2017   Published online: 24 March 2017

Abstract

A goal of designed artificial reefs (ARs) is to enhance fish abundance, species diversity and fishing opportunities by providing food and refuge for fish. Quantifying the contribution of ARs to coastal ecosystems and fisheries productivity requires an understanding of fish presence at the structure and connectivity with surrounding habitats. In the present study, the movements and presence of 10 eastern fiddler rays (Trygonorrhina fasciata), 17 Port Jackson sharks (Heterodontus portusjacksoni) and 18 bluespotted flathead (Platycephalus caeruleopunctatus) were monitored using acoustic telemetry around a designed AR in 38-m depth near Sydney, Australia. Fiddler rays exhibited an average short-term presence of 43% at the AR, and 26% over the ~20-month monitoring period, which was significantly higher than the other two species. Fish tagged at the AR showed high affinity to the site at which they were tagged compared with fish tagged on natural reef. All three species moved frequently between the AR and the other reefs in the area, indicating that the AR may increase the connectivity between adjacent habitats and aid the dispersion of benthic species. The moderate presence at the AR suggests that these species may contribute to some biomass production at this AR by incorporating this reef in their natural range.

Additional keywords: behaviour, benthic predator, management, purpose-built reef, site fidelity.


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