Assessment of fish populations and habitat on Oculina Bank, a deep-sea coral marine protected area off eastern Florida

Harter , Stacey L. and Ribera, Marta M. and Shepard, Andrew N. and Reed, John K. (2009) Assessment of fish populations and habitat on Oculina Bank, a deep-sea coral marine protected area off eastern Florida. Fishery Bulletin, 107(2), pp. 195-206.

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Abstract

A portion of the Oculina Bank located off eastern Florida is a marine protected area (MPA) preserved for its dense populations of the ivory tree coral (Oculina varicosa), which provides important habitat for fish. Surveys of fish assemblages and benthic habitat were conducted inside and outside the MPA in 2003 and 2005 by using remotely operated vehicle video transects and digital still imagery. Fish species composition, biodiversity, and grouper densities were used to determine whether O. varicosa forms an essential habitat compared to other structure-forming habitats and to examine the effectiveness of the MPA. Multivariate analyses indicated no differences in fish assemblages or biodiversity among hardbottom habitat types and grouper densities were highest among the most complex habitats; however the higher densities were not exclusive to coral habitat. Therefore, we conclude that O. varicosa was functionally equivalent to other hardbottom habitats. Even though fish assemblages were not different among management areas, biodiversity and grouper densities were higher inside the MPA compared to outside. The percentage of intact coral was also higher inside the MPA. These results provide initial evidence demonstrating effectiveness of the MPA for restoring reef fish and their habitat. This is the first study to compare reef fish populations on O. varicosa with other structure-forming reef habitats and also the first to examine the effectiveness of the MPA for restoring fish populations and live reef cover.

Item Type: Article
Title: Assessment of fish populations and habitat on Oculina Bank, a deep-sea coral marine protected area off eastern Florida
Personal Creator/Author:
CreatorsEmail
Harter , Stacey L.
Ribera, Marta M.
Shepard, Andrew N.
Reed, John K.
Refereed: Yes
Journal or Publication Title: Fishery Bulletin
Volume: 107
Number: 2
Page Range: pp. 195-206
Date: 2009
ISSN: 0090-0656
Issuing Agency: United States National Marine Fisheries Service
Subjects: Biology
Ecology
Fisheries
Item ID: 8802
Depositing User: Patti M. Marraro
Date Deposited: 11 Jun 2012 18:29
Last Modified: 11 Jun 2012 18:29
URI: http://aquaticcommons.org/id/eprint/8802

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