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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Where the grass is greenest in seagrass seascapes depends on life history and simple species traits of fish

Eggertsen, Linda; Goodell, Whitney; Cordeiro, Cesar A. M. M.; Cossa, Damboia; de Lucena, Marcos; Berkstrom, Charlotte; Franco, Joao N.; Ferreira, Carlos E. L.; Bandeira, Salomao; Gullstrom, Martin;

Abstract

Tropical seagrass meadows are critical habitats for many fish species, yet few studies have investigated the influence of multiple scale-dependent factors and marine protected areas on seagrass fish species of differing life histories. We assessed the influence of fine-scale seagrass meadow characteristics and seascape-scale variables on the abundance of fish in a seagrass-dominated seascape in the Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique, particularly examining patterns of nursery- vs. resident species as well as mobile- vs. sedentary species. We found that fish distribution patterns in this seagrass-dominated seascape were dependent on species' life history characteristics; nursery taxa showed lower abundance in seagrass meadows further from adult reef habitats, while resident species within seagrass meadows occurred in higher abundances far from reefs. For taxa utilizing both mangroves and seagrass meadows as nursery habitat, proximity to mangroves was an important factor. Fish abundances were generally influenced by variables at the seascape scale (km), while sedentary species were predominantly influenced by area variables, and smaller seascapes (<500 m in radius) better explained distribution patterns. The influence of marine protected areas was taxon-specific, with the strongest effects of protection on resident species. Our results indicate that protection efforts in seagrass-dominated seascapes can have varying impacts on fish distribution, depending on the life history of the species present, and the geographical placement of the reserve within the seascape. Further, we suggest that simple species attributes can be utilised to describe generalized abundance patterns of fish in seagrass seascapes.

Keywords

Seagrass; Reef fish; Seascape ecology; Boosted regression trees; Nursery habitat; Marine protected areas

Published in

Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science

2022, volume: 266, article number: 107738

Authors' information

Eggertsen, Linda
Uppsala University
Eggertsen, Linda
Stockholm University
Eggertsen, Linda
Universidade Federal Fluminense
Goodell, Whitney
National Geographic Society
Cordeiro, Cesar A. M. M.
Universidade Federal Fluminense
Cordeiro, Cesar A. M. M.
Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro
Cossa, Damboia
Eduardo Mondlane University
de Lucena, Marcos
Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro
de Lucena, Marcos
Universidade Federal Fluminense
Stockholm University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Resources
Franco, Joao N.
Universidade do Porto
Franco, Joao N.
Polytechnic Institute of Leiria
Ferreira, Carlos E. L.
Universidade Federal Fluminense
Bandeira, Salomao
Eduardo Mondlane University
Gullstrom, Martin
Sodertorn University

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG14 Life below water

UKÄ Subject classification

Ecology
Fish and Aquacultural Science

Publication Identifiers

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecss.2021.107738

URI (permanent link to this page)

https://res.slu.se/id/publ/115509