Backreef nursery community composition in relation to habitat quality

Activity: Talk and presentationAcademic presentationAcademic


Populations of many commercially important fish species are dependent on the import of juvenile fish from adjacent nursery habitats. For many tropical coral reef fish, inland waters fringed by mangroves and covered by seagrass beds provide critical habitat structures for juvenile fish to grow up in. However, these systems are highly vulnerable to pollution and habitat degradation which may affect the quality and quantity of fish exported to adult habitats. Proper health of these fish is not only important to sustain healthy coral reefs, but also for food provisioning to local communities. We therefore aimed to study the importance of 6 inland bays as a nursery habitat to 12 nursery fish species, by determining habitat quality (water quality and habitat complexity) and by determining fish species composition. We found considerable differences in abiotic and biotic conditions in all bays with regard to nursery fish community composition. Santa Martha was found to be the most important bay for commercially important snappers. On the other hand Fuik Bay was important for parrotfish which is an important species group to coral reef ecosystem integrity. The difference in nursery species composition between bays was found to be mostly influenced by seagrass and mangrove availability as well as visibility. This study highlights the importance of incorporating both habitat complexity and availability as a habitat quality measure to evaluate the effectiveness of nursery systems.
Event titleECSA 59: Using the best scientific knowledge for the sustainable management of estuaries and coastal seas
Event typeConference
LocationSan Sebastian, SpainShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational