Remote underwater video reveals higher fish diversity and abundance in seagrass meadows, and habitat differences in trophic interactions

Salvador Zarco-Perello, Susana Enríquez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Seagrass meadows play a key ecological role as nursery and feeding grounds for multiple fish species. Underwater Visual Census (UVC) has been historically used as the non-extractive method to characterize seagrass fish communities, however, less intrusive methodologies such as Remote Underwater Video (RUV) are gaining interest and could be particularly useful for seagrass habitats, where juvenile fish camouflage among the vegetation and could easily hide or flee from divers. Here we compared the performance of UVC and RUV methodologies in assessing the fish communities of two seagrass meadows with low and high canopy density. We found that RUV detected more species and fish individuals than UVC, particularly on the habitat with higher seagrass density, which sheltered more juveniles, especially herbivorous, and adult piscivorous of commercial importance, evidencing significant differences in energy flow from macrophytes to predators between seagrass habitats, and also differences in the ecosystem services they can provide. Considering the ongoing worldwide degradation of seagrass ecosystems, our results strongly suggest that fish surveys using RUV in ecologic and fisheries programs would render more accurate information and would be more adequate to inform the conservation planning of seagrass meadows around the world.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6596
JournalScientific Reports
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019

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