Publications:

Sih et al. 2019


scientific article | Diversity

Deep-Reef Fish Communities of the Great Barrier Reef Shelf-Break: Trophic Structure and Habitat Associations

Sih TL, Daniell JJ, Bridge TCL, Beaman RJ, Cappo M, Kingsford MJ



Abstract

The ecology of habitats along the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) shelf-break has rarely been investigated. Thus, there is little understanding of how associated fishes interact with deeper environments. We examined relationships between deep-reef fish communities and benthic habitat structure. We sampled 48 sites over a large depth gradient (54–260 m) in the central GBR using Baited Remote Underwater Video Stations and multibeam sonar. Fish community composition differed both among multiple shelf-break reefs and habitats within reefs. Epibenthic cover decreased with depth. Deep epibenthic cover included sponges, corals, and macro-algae, with macro-algae present to 194 m. Structural complexity decreased with depth, with more calcified reef, boulders, and bedrock in shallower depths. Deeper sites were flatter and more homogeneous with softer substratum. Habitats were variable within depth strata and were reflected in different fish assemblages among sites and among locations. Overall, fish trophic groups changed with depth and included generalist and benthic carnivores, piscivores, and planktivores while herbivores were rare below 50 m. While depth influenced where trophic groups occurred, site orientation and habitat morphology determined the composition of trophic groups within depths. Future conservation strategies will need to consider the vulnerability of taxa with narrow distributions and habitat requirements in unique shelf-break environments.

Keywords
Meta-data (pending validation)
Depth range
54- 260 m

Mesophotic “mentions”
32 x (total of 8869 words)

Classification
* Presents original data
* Focused on `mesophotic` depth range
* Focused on `mesophotic coral ecosystem`

Fields
Biodiversity
Ecology

Focusgroups
Fishes
Overall benthic (groups)

Locations
Australia - Great Barrier Reef

Platforms
Baited Remote Underwater Video (BRUV)
Sonar / Multibeam

Author profiles
Tiffany Sih ( 2 pubs)
Tom (Thomas) Bridge ( 23 pubs)
Robin Beaman ( 11 pubs)