Date of Award
Bachelor of Science (BS)
College of Science
Diane B Fribance
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.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License.
Campbell, Bridget, "The Influence of Bottom Type and Water Column Stratification on Reef Fish Community Structure at Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary" (2021). Honors Theses. 417.
Available for download on Sunday, May 15, 2022