Changes In Rocky Reef Fish Assemblages Throughout An Estuary With a Restricted Inlet

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Morton, J. & Gladstone, W. (2014). Changes in rocky reef fish assemblages throughout an estuary with a restricted inlet. Hydrobiologia, 724(1), 235-253. DOI 10.1007/s10750-013-1740-1.

ISSN: 0018-8158


050202 Conservation and Biodiversity| 050205 Environmental Management| 060202 Community Ecology| 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl. Marine Ichthyology)

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Rocky reef habitat is common in many estuaries yet its role as a habitat for fishes is poorly known. There is also limited understanding of how access of coastal species into estuaries and habitat quality can affect the distribution of rocky reef fishes within estuaries. This study used baited remote underwater video stations (BRUVS) to determine spatial patterns in fish assemblages associated with rocky reef habitat throughout a barrier estuary with a permanently open but restricted inlet. Estuarine rocky reefs provided habitat for a diverse assemblage of fishes, many of which were large juveniles and subadults. In the absence of a pronounced salinity or temperature gradient a clear transition in fish assemblages occurred from coastal waters, through the inlet channel, to the central estuary, and into the inner estuary. The inlet channel, notably its narrowness and length, limit tidal input into this estuary which acts as a significant impediment to the dispersal of many coastal fishes and insufficient habitat excludes many coastal rocky reef species from the inner estuary. This study highlights the need to recognise estuarine rocky reefs as providing habitat for diverse fish assemblages and the role inlets play in restricting access of coastal species.


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