Topographic preferences and habitat partitioning by pelagic fishes off southern Western Australia
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Hobday, AJ and Campbell, G, Topographic preferences and habitat partitioning by pelagic fishes off southern Western Australia, Fisheries Research, 95, (2-3) pp. 332-340. ISSN 0165-7836 (2009) [Refereed Article]
Pelagic fishes are typically considered mobile and wide-ranging open ocean foragers. However, many species have also been recorded in association with nearshore topographic structures. The relative abundance of four pelagic species at and away from topographic features on the continental shelf, as inferred from fine-scale catch data collected over a 7-year period, was examined for southern Western Australia. A total of 1056 captures were recorded from 890 h of trolling over 102 days: the top four species accounted for 97.5% of all captures. Eight distinct topographic features received 13.7% of the total trolling effort and produced 43.8% of captures. The percentage of all captures within 1 km of these features were 80% for yellowtail kingfish (Seriola lalandi, YTK), 50% for bonito (Sarda australia, BON), 27% for southern bluefin tuna (Thunnus maccoyii, SBT), and less than 5% for skipjack tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis, SKJ). Catch rates were 26, 6.59, and 2.47 times higher than catch rates away from the topographic features for YTK, BON, and SBT, respectively. In contrast, SKJ catch rates were 1/3rd lower at topographic features, indicating avoidance rather than preference. The mean distance at which species were captured from the center of each feature differed significantly, with YTK closest (303 m), followed by SBT (442 m), BON (493 m), and SKJ (539 m). These findings indicate habitat partitioning in pelagic fishes at topographic features and offer a way to increase catch of a targeted species, or reduce the capture of unwanted or quota-limited species. Crown Copyright © 2008.
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