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      Intertidal fishes of Mauritius with special reference to shallow tidepools

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          Intertidal fishes are found in large numbers and play an important role in their ecosystems, but knowledge of their ecology is still very limited in many tropical regions. Within this context, data from intertidal fishes in Mauritius were compiled from different sources and intertidal resident species were examined in Mauritian tidepools. A total of 292 fish species occurring in Mauritius were reported from intertidal habitats, of which 62 species represent permanent intertidal residents. The species number in the studied pools increased, not only with the proportion of stones and rock covering the pool bottom, but also with pool facilities, for example, the supply of boulders and a high coverage of macro-algae. All examined pools were dominated by two species, Bathygobius coalitus and Istiblennius edentulus . Their abundance increased with decreasing pool size, peaking in pools with a surface area between 1-2 m 2 during the lowest level of ebb tide. This 'overcrowding effect' may be linked to the absence of predators in these very small pools. The comparison of present data with results of a survey made in the same area in 1995 suggested a decrease of resident species occurred during the last decades, probably linked to human influences, such as eutrophication and water pollution.

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          Most cited references 61

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          Mangroves enhance the biomass of coral reef fish communities in the Caribbean.

          Mangrove forests are one of the world's most threatened tropical ecosystems with global loss exceeding 35% (ref. 1). Juvenile coral reef fish often inhabit mangroves, but the importance of these nurseries to reef fish population dynamics has not been quantified. Indeed, mangroves might be expected to have negligible influence on reef fish communities: juvenile fish can inhabit alternative habitats and fish populations may be regulated by other limiting factors such as larval supply or fishing. Here we show that mangroves are unexpectedly important, serving as an intermediate nursery habitat that may increase the survivorship of young fish. Mangroves in the Caribbean strongly influence the community structure of fish on neighbouring coral reefs. In addition, the biomass of several commercially important species is more than doubled when adult habitat is connected to mangroves. The largest herbivorous fish in the Atlantic, Scarus guacamaia, has a functional dependency on mangroves and has suffered local extinction after mangrove removal. Current rates of mangrove deforestation are likely to have severe deleterious consequences for the ecosystem function, fisheries productivity and resilience of reefs. Conservation efforts should protect connected corridors of mangroves, seagrass beds and coral reefs.
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            Importance of Mangroves, Seagrass Beds and the Shallow Coral Reef as a Nursery for Important Coral Reef Fishes, Using a Visual Census Technique

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              Why do juvenile fish utilise mangrove habitats?

              Three hypotheses to discern the strong positive association between juvenile fish and mangrove habitat were tested with field and laboratory experiments. Artificial mangrove structure in the field attracted slightly more juvenile fish than areas without structure. Artificial structure left to accumulate fouling algae attracted four-times the total number of juvenile fish than areas without structure or areas with clean structure. Community composition of fish attracted to structure with fouling algae was different when compared with areas with no structure or clean structure; five species were attracted by structure with fouling algae whilst two species were associated with structure regardless of fouling algae. Algae were linked to increased food availability and it is suggested that this is an important selection criteria for some species. Other species were apparently attracted to structure for different reasons, and provision of shelter appears to be important. Predation pressure influenced habitat choice in small juvenile fish in laboratory experiments. In the absence of predators, small juveniles of four out of five species avoided shelter but when predators were introduced all species actively sought shelter. Large fish were apparently less vulnerable to predators and did not seek shelter when predators were added to their tank. Feeding rate was increased in the mangrove habitat for small and medium-sized fish compared with seagrass beds and mudflats indicating increased food availability or foraging efficiency within this habitat. Larger fish fed more effectively on the mudflats with an increased feeding rate in this habitat compared with adjacent habitats. The most important aspect of the mangrove habitat for small juvenile fish is the complex structure that provides maximum food availability and minimises the incidence of predation. As fish grow a shift in habitat from mangroves to mudflat is a response to changes in diet, foraging efficiency and vulnerability to predators.

                Author and article information

                Biodivers Data J
                Biodivers Data J
                Biodiversity Data Journal
                Pensoft Publishers
                06 August 2019
                : 7
                [1 ] Anhalt University of Applied Sciences, Bernburg, Germany Anhalt University of Applied Sciences Bernburg Germany
                [2 ] Im Ramstal 76, Lauda-Königshofen, Germany Im Ramstal 76 Lauda-Königshofen Germany
                Author notes
                Corresponding author: Erik Arndt ( erik.arndt@ ).

                Academic editor: Felipe Ottoni

                36754 11997
                Erik Arndt, Ronald Fricke

                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

                Page count
                Figures: 4, Tables: 2, References: 91
                Research Article


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