Local vs. regional drivers of variation in reef fishes

An improvement in our efforts to optimize conservation of reef fishes need to necessarily incorporate processes operating at regional scales with processes that shape local reef fish communities at local scales. We have just published a paper where fishes and habitat attributes were quantified on reefs encompassing a 6◦ latitudinal gradient across south-western Australia. The variability observed was partitioned at these spatio-temporal scales in relation to reef fish variables and the influence of environmental drivers quantified at local scales, i.e. at the scale of reefs (the number of small and large topographic elements, the cover of kelp, fucalean and red algae, depth and wave exposure) and at the scale of regions (mean and maximum nutrient concentrations and

mean seawater temperature) with regard to the total abundance, species density, species diversity and the multivariate structure of reef fishes. Variation in reef fish species density and diversity was significant at the regional scale, whereas variation in the total abundance and assemblage structure of fishes was also significant at local scales. In all cases, spatial variation was greater than temporal variation. To find out more see: Tuya F, Wernberg, T., Thomsen, M.S. 2011. The relative influence of local to regional drivers of variation in reef Fishes. Journal of Fish Biology 79, 217–234.

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