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

Last modified: 
March 29, 2018 - 2:24pm
Type: Journal Article
Year of publication: 2018
Date published: 04/2018
Authors: Brendan Lanham, Adriana Vergés, Luke Hedge, Emma Johnston, Alistair Poore
Journal title: Marine Pollution Bulletin
Volume: 129
Issue: 1
Pages: 43 - 51
ISSN: 0025326X

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.

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