Altered fish community and feeding behaviour in close proximity to boat moorings in an urban estuary

Lanham B.S., A Vergés, LH Hedge, EL Johnston, AGB Poore
Marine Pollution Bulletin 129 (2018) 43-51

Coastal urbanization has led to large-scale transformation of estuaries, with artificial structures now commonplace. Boat moorings are known to reduce seagrass cover, but little is known about their effect on fish communities. We used underwater video to quantify abundance, diversity, composition and feeding behaviour of fish assemblages on two scales: with increasing distance from moorings on fine scales, and among locations where moorings were present or absent. Fish were less abundant in close proximity to boat moorings, and the species composition varied on fine scales, leading to lower predation pressure near moorings. There was no relationship at the location with seagrass. On larger scales, we detected no differences in abundance or community composition among locations where moorings were present or absent. These findings show a clear impact of moorings on fish and highlight the importance of fine-scale assessments over location-scale comparisons in the detection of the effects of artificial structures.


Beyond the border: effects of an expanding algal habitat on the fauna of neighbouring habitats

Lanham B.S., PE Gribben, AGB Poore
Marine Environmental Research 106 (2015) 10-18

The impacts of novel habitat-forming organisms on associated fauna have been difficult to predict, and may affect the fauna of neighbouring habitats due to changes in the spatial configuration of habitat patches of differing quality. Here, we test whether the localised expansion of a native habitat-forming macroalga, Caulerpa filiformis, on subtidal reefs can affect the abundance of fauna associated with a neighbouring macroalgal habitat. C. filiformis was a functionally distinct habitat for fauna, and the total abundance of epifauna associated with the resident alga, Sargassum linearifolium, was reduced at some sites when in close proximity to or surrounded by C. filiformis. Experimental manipulation of habitat configuration demonstrated that the low abundance of gastropods on S. linearifolium when surrounded by C. filiformis was likely explained by C. filiformis acting as a physical dispersal barrier for mobile fauna. Changes to the spatial configuration of novel and resident habitats can thus affect the abundance of fauna in addition to the direct replacement of habitats by species undergoing range expansions or increasing in abundance.