Importance of intertidal seagrass beds as nursery area for coral reef fish juveniles (Mayotte, Indian Ocean)
The present study highlights the importance of intertidal seagrass beds as nursery areas for coral reef fish juveniles along four sites (Mtsoubatsou, Sohoa, Boueni, Ngouja) on the western coast of Mayotte Island. The results collected by underwater visual census from November 2012 to January 2013 showed that mean total fish density between adults and juveniles varied significantly at each site, with juveniles always being more abundant in seagrass beds than adults. Of the total fish assemblages sampled in seagrass beds, 73% were juveniles and few adults of large species were observed. Overall, our study highlights the important functional role of intertidal seagrass beds for fish assemblages, as they are the primary habitat for the juveniles of many fish species on Mayotte reefs. Seagrass beds, however, are very vulnerable ecosystems and are decreasing worldwide. Therefore it is of primary importance to protect seagrass beds within the Indo-Pacific.