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      The marine fishes of St Eustatius Island, northeastern Caribbean: an annotated, photographic catalog

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      ZooKeys

      Pensoft Publishers

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          Abstract

          Sint Eustatius (Statia) is a 21 km2 island situated in the northeastern Caribbean Sea. The most recent published sources of information on that island’s marine fish fauna is in two non-governmental organization reports from 2015–17 related to the formation of a marine reserve. The species-list in the 2017 report was based on field research in 2013–15 using SCUBA diving surveys, shallow “baited underwater video surveys” (BRUVs), and data from fishery surveys and scientific collections over the preceding century. That checklist comprised 304 species of shallow (mostly) and deep-water fishes. In 2017 the Smithsonian Deep Reef Observation Project surveyed deep-reef fishes at Statia using the crewed submersible Curasub. That effort recorded 120 species, including 59 new occurrences records. In March-May 2020, two experienced citizen scientists completed 62 SCUBA dives there and recorded 244 shallow species, 40 of them new records for Statia. The 2017–2020 research effort increased the number of species known from the island by 33.6% to 406. Here we present an updated catalog of that marine fish fauna, including voucher photographs of 280 species recorded there in 2017 and 2020. The Statia reef-fish fauna likely is incompletely documented as it has few small, shallow, cryptobenthic species, which are a major component of the regional fauna. A lack of targeted sampling is probably the major factor explaining that deficit, although a limited range of benthic marine habitats may also be contributing.

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          Most cited references 18

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          Reef fish assemblages: a re-evaluation using enclosed rotenone stations

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            The hidden half: ecology and evolution of cryptobenthic fishes on coral reefs

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              Below the Mesophotic

              Mesophotic coral ecosystems, which occur at depths of ~40 to 150 m, have received recent scientific attention as potential refugia for organisms inhabiting deteriorating shallow reefs. These ecosystems merit research in their own right, as they harbor both depth-generalist species and a distinctive reef-fish fauna. Reef ecosystems just below the mesophotic are globally underexplored, and the scant recent literature that mentions them often suggests that mesophotic ecosystems transition directly into those of the deep sea. Through submersible-based surveys in the Caribbean Sea, we amassed the most extensive database to date on reef-fish diversity between ~40 and 309 m at any single tropical location. Our data reveal a unique reef-fish assemblage living between ~130 and 309 m that, while taxonomically distinct from shallower faunas, shares strong evolutionary affinities with them. Lacking an existing name for this reef-faunal zone immediately below the mesophotic but above the deep aphotic, we propose “rariphotic.” Together with the “altiphotic,” proposed here for the shallowest reef-faunal zone, and the mesophotic, the rariphotic is part of a depth continuum of discrete faunal zones of tropical reef fishes, and perhaps of reef ecosystems in general, all of which warrant further study in light of global declines of shallow reefs.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                (View ORCID Profile)
                Journal
                ZooKeys
                ZK
                Pensoft Publishers
                1313-2970
                1313-2989
                December 30 2020
                December 30 2020
                : 1007
                : 145-180
                Article
                10.3897/zookeys.1007.58515
                7788074
                33505184
                © 2020

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