Effect of foresting barren ground with Macrocystis pyrifera (Linnaeus) C. Agardh on the occurrence of coastal fishes off northern Chile


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Juergen.Laudien [ at ] awi.de

Abstract

Macrocystis pyrifera kelp beds play a significant ecological role along the coast of Chile. Besides their importance as food, protection structures, substrata, microhabitats and nurseries, regularly occurring natural disturbances (e.g. extremes of the climate variability El Niño–Southern Oscillation) and increased kelp exploitation affect these habitats. The present study aimed to test the dependence of reef fishes on Macrocystis pyrifera and to evaluate the effect of an enhanced habitat structure (experimental M. pyrifera bed) on the abundance, composition and spatial distribution on rock, on macroalgae, in the water column and on sand of the reef fish community. Boulders colonised by M. pyrifera were transported into three replicated experimental areas (9 m2 each) located in a barren ground area. Three barren ground areas (9m2 each) without manipulation were selected as controls. The fish abundance, composition and spatial distribution on rock, on macroalgae, in the water column and on sand were recorded weekly by scuba diving over a period of 3 months, between 15 February 2007 and 13 June 2007 (4 months). Results indicate significantly higher abundances (mean = 225%) of fishes in the forested areas compared to the barren ground controls (mean = 3.71 fishes/9 m2 and 1.14 fishes/9 m2, respectively). Scartichthys gigas/viridis, Chromis crusma, Cheilodactylus variegatus and Isacia conceptionis numerically dominated the fish assemblages of the experimental kelp patches. Each fish species revealed different distributions in the forested areas: Scartichthys gigas/viridis was more abundant on rocks and C. variegatus in the macroalgae, whereas C. crusma and I. conceptionis preferred the water column above the experimental kelp bed. During the experimental time, the kelp lost some blades and some plants became detached. The overall number of fishes correlated with the declining kelp abundance (r = 0.964, p < 0.05). The fish species showed different responses to these changes in the experimental areas: C. variegatus and I. conceptionis declined in abundance, whereas the abundance of Scartichthys gigas/viridis remained constant.



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ISI/Scopus peer-reviewed
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Eprint ID
48569
DOI 10.1007/s10811-018-1657-1

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Villegas, M. , Laudien, J. , Sielfeld, W. and Arntz, W. (2018): Effect of foresting barren ground with Macrocystis pyrifera (Linnaeus) C. Agardh on the occurrence of coastal fishes off northern Chile , Journal of Applied Phycology . doi: 10.1007/s10811-018-1657-1


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Climate Variability and El Niño Southern Oscillation: Implications for Natural Resources and Management, contract 511071


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