Delineating fish-habitat associations for spatially-based management: an example from the south-eastern Australian continental shelf
Williams, A and Bax, NJ, Delineating fish-habitat associations for spatially-based management: an example from the south-eastern Australian continental shelf, Marine and Freshwater Research, 52, (4) pp. 513-536. ISSN 1323-1650 (2001) [Refereed Article]
A multi-scale, multi-gear survey identified the spatial structure and compositions of fish communities from a range of seabed types on the south-eastern Australian continental shelf (25 m to ∼200 m depth). Most communities are species-rich and contain many shared species. Multivariate analysis of distributions of 201 fishes showed communities to be correlated with depth, latitude and seabed type; correlation with hydrodynamic climate is suggested by patterns in morphology. Depth-related patterns occurred on soft-sediment and hard substrata; strong latitudinal (south-west/north-east) patterns identify the area as a faunal transition zone with a major faunal disjunction extending across the shelf. Community patterns were overlaid on distributions of substrata to produce a biophysical map. This mapping process is discussed in the context of spatial management: the ecologically significant scale at which to map habitat features and definition of management units for ecosystem-based management. A hierarchy of scaled ecological units is being developed for Australia's National Representative System of Marine Protected Areas (NRSMPA); given the scope of the NRSMPA initiative, surrogate measures of community structure will be required. Maps of substrata and topography, interpreted in the context of the broader depth and latitudinal community structure and as modified by hydrography, may provide one useful surrogate.