Juvenile fish assemblages in temperate rocky reefs are shaped by the presence of macro-algae canopy and its three-dimensional structure

Abstract : Arborescent macro-algae forests covering temperate rocky reefs are a known habitat for juvenile fishes. However, in the Mediterranean, these forests are undergoing severe transformations due to pressures from global change. In our study, juvenile fish assemblages differed between pristine arborescent forests (Cystoseira brachycarpa var. balearica) versus an alternate state: bushland (Dictyotales – Sphacelariales). Forests hosted richer and three-fold more abundant juvenile assemblages. This was consistent through space, whatever the local environmental conditions, along 40 km of NW Mediterranean subtidal rocky shores (Corsica, France). Among Cystoseira forests, juvenile assemblages varied through space (i.e. between localities, zones or sites) in terms of total abundance, composition, richness and taxa-specific patterns. More than half of this variability was explained by forest descriptors, namely small variations in canopy structure and/or depth. Our results provide essential cues for understanding and managing coastal habitats and fish populations. Further studies are needed to explain the residual part of the spatial variability of juvenile fish assemblages and to help focus conservation efforts.
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Adrien Cheminée, Jérémy Pastor, Olivier Bianchimani, Pierre Thiriet, Enric Sala, et al.. Juvenile fish assemblages in temperate rocky reefs are shaped by the presence of macro-algae canopy and its three-dimensional structure. Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group, 2017, 7 (1), ⟨10.1038/s41598-017-15291-y⟩. ⟨hal-01741588⟩

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