Relationships between habitat structure and fish communities on coral and sandstone reefs

Ohman, M.C.; Rajasuriya, A.

Environmental Biology of Fishes 53(1): 19-31

1998


ISSN/ISBN: 0378-1909
DOI: 10.1023/a:1007445226928
Accession: 009331777

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Abstract
The influence of habitat structure on reef-fish communities at Bar Reef Marine Sanctuary, Sri Lanka, was investigated. The relationship between habitat characteristics and the distribution and abundance of 135 species of fishes was examined on two reef types: coral and sandstone reefs. Results suggested that the reef-fish communities were strongly influenced by various aspects of reef structure. However, relationships between habitat variables and fish communities structure, varied between the two reef types. Fish species diversity was correlated with a number of habitat variables on the sandstone reefs, although structural complexity seemed to play the dominant role. There were no correlations between habitat structure and fish diversity on the coral reefs. Total abundance was not related to any one habitat parameter on either reef type. However, abundances of some species, families and trophic groups were correlated with habitat features. These specific correlations were commonly related to food or shelter availability. For example, coral feeders were correlated with live coral cover, and pomacentrid species, which used branching corals for protection, showed a significant relationship with the density of Acropora colonies. This shows that a summary statistic such as total abundance may hide important information. Effects of habitat structure on the distribution patterns of the fish communities was further investigated using multi-dimensional scaling ordination (MDS) and the RELATE-procedure. With the MDS ordinations for both habitat and fish-community composition it was possible to show that the multivariate pattern between the two ecological components was clearly correlated.