Fish, coral and community structure: 35 years of change on Wistari Reef, Australia
Keywords:Coral cover, rugosity, fish abundance, Great Barrier Reef
One hundred sites in 10 grids at Wistari Reef, Queensland were surveyed in 1971, 1999, and again in 2006. The abundance of taxa incorporating 205 fish species were recorded along with estimates of live coral cover and rugosity during each survey. We found that fishes partitioned the reef slope at different scales with more abundant taxa being more patchily distributed within a habitat type but occupying more habitats and a greater share of the reef slope. Rare taxa were more evenly distributed within a habitat type but occupied fewer habitats. Over the 35-year period, there was a decline in fish abundance, rugosity, and coral cover. There were weak relationships between fish abundance and coral cover and stronger relationships between fish abundance and rugosity across the 10 habitat types supporting the idea that fish are more dependent on three-dimensional complexity than on the presence of a healthy coral community
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