Date of Award

Fall 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)


Marine Science


College of Science

First Advisor

Diane B Fribance

Second Advisor

Cecilia Krahforst


Understanding the physical and oceanographic differences across reef habitats can help researchers assess how those differences influence fish distribution and community structure, which leads to a better understanding of what a healthy reef system looks like. The traditional methods used to assess fish communities on temperate reefs are limited and often focus solely on either the reef structure or water column conditions alone. An assessment of both data sets yields a more complete understanding of the ecosystem as a whole. In this study, Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary (GRNMS) was surveyed both inside and outside a Marine Protected Area (MPA) using echosounder technology and a CTD profiler to assess physical and environmental controls of the reef and water column that may be driving reef fish communities. Physical characteristics of the reef such as bottom type and depth were identified and classified, however they did not show a significant relationship with the fish parameters of Sv mean, proportion occupied, and aggregation index (p > 0.05). Stratification of the water column, identified from the CTD data, did have a significant relationship with the percentage of the water column being occupied by fish (p = 0.004). This suggests that the environmental conditions are the main drivers of temperate reef fish distribution; however, differences in stratification between the analyzed tracks may have prevented other controlling factors from being observed.

Available for download on Sunday, May 15, 2022