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Spatial variability in the structure of fish assemblages associated with Laminaria hyperborea forests in the NE Atlantic

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Pip MooreORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2023 The AuthorsUnderstanding fish-habitat associations is critical for ecosystem-based approaches to management and conservation. Kelp species, which are estimated to inhabit around 25% of the world's coastline and underpin highly productive and biodiverse ecosystems, are widely recognised as important nursery and foraging habitats for coastal fish species. However, quantitative assessments of fish assemblages within kelp forests are lacking for many regions. Here, we used Baited Remote Underwater Video (BRUV) and Underwater Visual Census (UVC) to quantify fish assemblages in Laminaria hyperborea forests at eight shallow subtidal rocky reefs that spanned 9° of latitude in the United Kingdom (UK). Fish assemblages were a ubiquitous and conspicuous component of kelp forest communities at all sites. BRUV surveys recorded marked regional-scale variability, with latitudinal shifts in assemblage structure and particularly distinct assemblages recorded in southwest England. These patterns were largely due to greater abundances of Pollachius spp. (i.e. saithe and pollock) in northern regions and higher numbers of Gobiusculus flavescens (two-spotted goby) and labrid species (i.e. rock cook, goldsinny and ballan wrasses) in southern regions. Unlike BRUVs, UVC surveys did not detect significant regional-scale variation in assemblage structure but did detect significant site-level differences, highlighting differences between the two techniques. BRUV surveys also recorded clear latitudinal trends in richness, with more taxa recorded at lower latitudes. Fish assemblages in the NE Atlantic have been, and will continue to be, impacted by ocean warming and fishing activities. Greater spatiotemporal coverage of kelp forest surveys and ongoing robust monitoring is needed to better understand and manage future ecological changes.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Jackson-Bue M, Smale DA, King NG, Rushton AG, Moore PJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology

Year: 2023

Volume: 564

Print publication date: 01/07/2023

Online publication date: 15/03/2023

Acceptance date: 10/03/2023

Date deposited: 30/03/2023

ISSN (print): 0022-0981

Publisher: Elsevier B.V.


DOI: 10.1016/j.jembe.2023.151899


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