McCallister et al. 2023

scientific article | Fish Res

Fish community assessment of shelf-edge artificial reefs along east-central Florida

McCallister MP, Oppenborn J, Ajemian MJ.


Artificial reef development is a popular management tool used to enhance fish stocks, mitigate degradation or loss of natural habitats, and provide additional recreational opportunities. In Florida, artificial reef development is a top priority of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Division of Marine Fisheries Management’s Artificial Reef program; however, despite their popularity and support, our scientific understanding of how artificial reefs ecologically facilitate marine fisheries is limited in certain habitats. This is especially true of the many artificial reefs along Florida’s central east coast, which has received sporadic assessment over the past few decades. The objective of this study was to conduct a fishery-independent assessment of the reef fish communities inhabiting the artificial reef sites off central east coast Florida using a combination of vertical longline sampling (VLL) and baited remote underwater videos (BRUV). Red snapper (Lutjanus campechanus) and vermilion snapper (Rhomboplites aurorubens) had the largest catch-per-unit-effort (CPUE) during VLL sampling, with red snapper CPUE significantly greater on rubble artificial reefs deeper than 40 m and vermilion snapper CPUE significantly greater on artificial reefs shallower than 30 m. A total of 62 fish species were observed on BRUVs, and community analysis indicated that red snapper, vermilion snapper, and tomtate (Haemulon aurolineatum) contributed the most to differences in community composition. Red snapper had the greatest abundance on sites deeper than 40 m, while vermilion snapper and tomtates had greater abundance on sites shallower than 30 m; all three species were more abundant during summer. This study provides the first quantitative assessment of reef fish communities on artificial reefs along central east coast Florida. Further monitoring is encouraged to unravel possible interactive effects of reef type and other environmental factors on fish assemblages, although it is evident that the reefs sampled support multiple managed fisheries species.

Depth range
28- 56 m

Mesophotic “mentions”
1 x (total of 7882 words)

* Presents original data
* Focused on 'mesophotic' depth range
* Focused on 'mesophotic coral ecosystem'

Community structure


USA - Continental Atlantic Ocean

Baited Remote Underwater Video (BRUV)

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