Oral Presentation Australian Society for Fish Biology Conference 2017

Multispecies presence and connectivity around a designed artificial reef off coastal Sydney, Australia (#31)

Krystle Keller 1 , James A Smith 1 , Michael B Lowry 2 , Matthew D Taylor 2 , Iain M Suthers 1
  1. School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences (BEES), University of New South Wales, , Randwick, NSW, Australia
  2. Port Stephens Fisheries Institute, New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, Taylors Beach, NSW, Australia

A goal of designed artificial reefs (ARs) is to enhance fish abundance, species diversity and fishing opportunities through providing food and refuge for fishes. Quantifying the contribution of ARs to coastal ecosystems and fisheries productivity requires an understanding of fish presence at the structure and connectivity with surrounding habitats. The movements and presence of 10 Eastern Fiddler Ray (Trygonorrhina fasciata), 17 Port Jackson Shark (Heterodontus portusjacksoni) and 18 Bluespotted Flathead (Platycephalus caeruleopunctatus) were monitored using acoustic telemetry around a 700 m3 designed AR in 38 m depth near Sydney, Australia. Fiddler Rays exhibited an average short-term presence of 43% at the AR, and 26% over the ~20 month monitoring period, which was significantly higher than the other two species. Fish tagged at the AR showed high affinity to the site at which they were tagged compared with fish tagged on natural reef. All three species moved frequently between the AR and the other reefs in the area, indicating strong connectivity throughout the mosaic of habitats. The relatively moderate presence at the AR suggests that these species may contribute to some biomass production at this AR, by incorporating this reef in their natural range. Our findings also indicate that this reef may increase the connectivity between adjacent habitats and aid the dispersion of a range of benthic species.

  1. Keller, K., Smith, J. A., Lowry, M. B., Taylor, M. D., Suthers, I. M. (2017) Multispecies presence and connectivity around a designed artificial reef. Marine and Freshwater Research. doi.org/10.1071/MF16127