Skip to main content
×
Home
    • Aa
    • Aa

Wariness of reef fish to passive diver presence with varying dive gear type across a coral reef depth gradient

  • Dominic A. Andradi-Brown (a1) (a2), Erika Gress (a2), Jack H. Laverick (a1) (a2), Margaux A. A. Monfared (a2) (a3), Alex David Rogers (a1) and Dan A. Exton (a2)...
Abstract

Both active and passive human interactions with reef fish communities are increasingly recognized to cause fish behavioural changes. However, few studies have considered how these behavioural adaptations impact standard reef survey techniques, particularly across natural gradients of interest to ecologists and reef managers. Here we measure fish abundance, biomass and minimum approach distance using stereo-video surveys to compare the effects of bubble-producing open-circuit scuba vs near-silent closed-circuit rebreathers. Surveys extended across a shallow to upper-mesophotic gradient on the fringing reefs of Utila, Honduras, to explore how the effects of diver gear choice vary with depth. For most fish families we recorded similar abundances and biomass with the two diving techniques, suggesting that open-circuit transects are generally appropriate for surveying western Atlantic reefs similar to Utila with regular tourist diving but no spearfishing. Despite no overall significant difference in fish abundance or biomass, we identified several fish families (Labridae, Pomacentridae, Scaridae) that allowed closed-circuit rebreather divers to approach more closely than open-circuit divers. In addition, smaller fish generally allowed divers to approach more closely than larger fish, and in most cases divers could approach fish more closely on mesophotic than shallow reefs. Despite these significant differences in approach distances, their magnitude suggest they are unlikely to affect reef fish detectability during normal fish surveys for most families. Our findings highlight the importance of considering variation in fish behavioural adaptations along natural gradients such as depth, which otherwise has the potential to cause biases when surveying by traditional monitoring programmes.

Copyright
Corresponding author
Correspondence should be addressed to: D. A. Andradi-Brown, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, The Tinbergen Building, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PS, UK email: dominic.andradi-brown@zoo.ox.ac.uk
Footnotes
Hide All

These authors have contributed equally and are joint last authors.

Footnotes
References
Hide All
D.A. Andradi-Brown , E. Gress , G. Wright , D.A. Exton and A.D. Rogers (2016b) Reef fish community biomass and trophic structure changes across shallow to upper-mesophotic reefs in the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, Caribbean. PLoS ONE 11, e0156641.

D.A. Andradi-Brown , R. Grey , A. Hendrix , D. Hitchner , C.L. Hunt , E. Gress , K. Madej , R.L. Parry , C. Régnier-McKellar , O.P. Jones , M. Arteaga , A.P. Izaguirre , A.D. Rogers and D.A. Exton (2017) Depth-dependent effects of culling – do mesophotic lionfish populations undermine current management? Royal Society Open Science 4, 170027.

D.A. Andradi-Brown , C. Macaya-Solis , D.A. Exton , E. Gress , G. Wright and A.D. Rogers (2016c) Assessing Caribbean shallow and mesophotic reef fish communities using baited-remote underwater video (BRUV) and diver-operated video (DOV) survey techniques. PLoS ONE 11, e0168235.

I. Bejarano , R.S. Appeldoorn and M. Nemeth (2014) Fishes associated with mesophotic coral ecosystems in La Parguera, Puerto Rico. Coral Reefs 33, 313328.

E. Brokovich , T. Ben-Ari , S. Kark , M. Kiflawi , G. Dishon , D. Iluz and N. Shashar (2010) Functional changes of the visual system of the damselfish Dascyllus marginatus along its bathymetric range. Physiology and Behavior 101, 413421.

C.J. Chapman , A.D.F. Johnstone , J.R. Dunn and D.J. Creasey (1974) Reactions of fish to sound generated by divers’ open-circuit underwater breathing apparatus. Marine Biology 27, 357366.

C.W. Clark (1994) Antipredator behavior and the asset-protection principle. Behavioral Ecology 5, 159170.

K.R. Clarke , P.J. Somerfield and M.G. Chapman (2006) On resemblance measures for ecological studies, including taxonomic dissimilarities and a zero-adjusted Bray–Curtis coefficient for denuded assemblages. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 330, 5580.

R.G. Cole (1994) Abundance, size structure, and diver-oriented behaviour of three large benthic carnivorous fishes in a marine reserve in Northeastern New Zealand. Biological Conservation 70, 9399.

R.G. Cole , C. Syms , N.K. Davey , N. Gust , P. Notman , R. Stewart , C.A. Radford , G. Carbines , M.H. Carr and A.G. Jevs (2007) Does breathing apparatus affect fish counts and observations? A comparison at three New Zealand fished and protected areas. Marine Biology 150, 13791395.

L.C. Dickens , C.H.R. Goatley , J.K. Tanner and D.R. Bellwood (2011) Quantifying relative diver effects in underwater visual censuses. PLoS ONE 6, e18965.

S. Doiron and S. Weissenberger (2014) Sustainable dive tourism: social and environmental impacts – the case of Roatan, Honduras. Tourism Management Perspectives 10, 1926.

R.D. Fernald (1985) Growth of the teleost eye: novel solutions to complex constraints. Environmental Biology of Fishes 13, 113123.

B. Gobert , P. Berthou , E. Lopez , P. Lespagnol , M.D.O. Turcios , C. Macabiau and P. Portillo (2005) Early stages of snapper–grouper exploitation in the Caribbean (Bay Islands, Honduras). Fisheries Research 73, 159169.

K.M. Gotanda , K. Turgeon and D.L. Kramer (2009) Body size and reserve protection affect flight initiation distance in parrotfishes. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 63, 15631572.

A.E. Gray , I.D. Williams , K.A. Stamoulis , R.C. Boland , K.C. Lino , B.B. Hauk , J.C. Leonard , J.R. Rooney , J.M. Asher , K.H. Lopes and R.K. Kosaki (2016) Comparison of reef fish survey data gathered by open and closed circuit scuba divers reveals differences in areas with higher fishing pressure. PLoS ONE 11, e0167724.

M.G.G. Grol , A.L. Rypel and I. Nagelkerken (2014) Growth potential and predation risk drive ontogenetic shifts among nursery habitats in a coral reef fish. Marine Ecology Progress Series 502, 229244.

A.R. Harborne , D.C. Afzal and M.J. Andrews (2001) Honduras: Caribbean coast. Marine Pollution Bulletin 42, 12211235.

E. Harvey , D. Fletcher , M. Shortis and G.A. Kendrick (2004) A comparison of underwater visual distance estimates made by scuba divers and a stereo-video system: implications for underwater visual census of reef fish abundance. Marine and Freshwater Research 55, 573580.

F.A. Januchowski-Hartley , J.E. Cinner and N.A.J. Graham (2014) Fishery benefits from behavioural modification of fishes in periodically harvested fisheries closures. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 24, 777790.

F.A. Januchowski-Hartley , N.A.J. Graham , J.E. Cinner and G.R. Russ (2015) Local fishing influences coral reef fish behavior inside protected areas of the Indo-Pacific. Biological Conservation 182, 812.

F.A. Januchowski-Hartley , N.A.J. Graham , D.A. Feary , T. Morove and J.E. Cinner (2011) Fear of fishers: human predation explains behavioral changes in coral reef fishes. PLoS ONE 6, e22761.

M. Kulbicki (1998) How the acquired behaviour of commercial reef fishes may influence the results obtained from visual censuses. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 222, 1130.

S.J. Lindfield , E.S. Harvey , A.R. Halford and J.L. McIlwain (2016) Mesophotic depths as refuge areas for fishery-targeted species on coral reefs. Coral Reefs 35, 125137.

S.J. Lindfield , E.S. Harvey , J.L. McIlwain and A.R. Halford (2014a) Silent fish surveys: bubble-free diving highlights inaccuracies associated with SCUBA-based surveys in heavily fished areas. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 5, 10611069.

S.J. Lindfield , J.L. McIlwain and E.S. Harvey (2014b) Depth refuge and the impacts of scuba spearfishing on coral reef fishes. PLoS ONE 9, e92628.

D. Mallet and D. Pelletier (2014) Underwater video techniques for observing coastal marine biodiversity: a review of sixty years of publications (1952–2012). Fisheries Research 154, 4462.

H.T. Pinheiro , G. Goodbody-Gringley , M.E. Jessup , B. Shepherd , A.D. Chequer and L.A. Rocha (2016) Upper and lower mesophotic coral reef fish communities evaluated by underwater visual censuses in two Caribbean locations. Coral Reefs 35, 139151.

C.A. Radford , A.G. Jeffs , C.T. Tindle , R.G. Cole and J.C. Montgomery (2005) Bubbled waters: the noise generated by underwater breathing apparatus. Marine and Freshwater Behaviour and Physiology 38, 259267.

M. Sciberras , S.R. Jenkins , M.J. Kaiser , S.J. Hawkins and A.S. Pullin (2013) Evaluating the biological effectiveness of fully and partially protected marine areas. Environmental Evidence 2, 4.

A. Sieber and R. Pyle (2010) A review of the use of closed-circuit rebreathers for scientific diving. Underwater Technology 29, 7378.

A.A. Thompson and B.D. Mapstone (1997) Observer effects and training in underwater visual surveys of reef fishes. Marine Ecology Progress Series 154, 5363.

B.M. Titus , M. Daly and D.A. Exton (2015) Do reef fish habituate to diver presence? Evidence from two reef sites with contrasting historical levels of scuba intensity in the Bay Islands, Honduras. PLoS ONE 10, e0119645.

D.L. Watson and E.S. Harvey (2007) Behaviour of temperate and sub-tropical reef fishes towards a stationary scuba diver. Marine and Freshwater Behaviour and Physiology 40, 85103.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom
  • ISSN: 0025-3154
  • EISSN: 1469-7769
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-the-marine-biological-association-of-the-united-kingdom
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords:

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 4
Total number of PDF views: 29 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 442 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 19th July 2017 - 18th October 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.