Boland et al. 2022

scientific article | Front Mar Sci | open access

Quantifying mesophotic fish assemblages of Hawai‘i’s Au‘au Channel: associations with benthic habitats and depth

Boland RC, Hyrenbach KD, DeMartini EE, Parrish FA, Rooney JJ


Mesophotic reefs (30–150 m) occur in the tropics and subtropics at depths beyond most scientific diving, thereby making conventional surveys challenging. Towed cameras, submersibles, and mixed-gas divers were used to survey the mesophotic reef fish assemblages and benthic substrates of the Au‘au Channel, between the Hawaiian Islands of Maui and La¯ na‘i. Non-parametric multivariate analysis: Non-metric Multidimensional Scaling (NMDS), Hierarchical Cluster Analysis (HCA), Multi-Response Permutation Procedure (MRPP), and Indicator Species Analysis (ISA) were used to determine the association of mesophotic reef fish species with benthic substrates and depth. Between 53 and 115-m depths, 82 species and 10 genera of fish were observed together with 10 types of benthic substrate. Eight species of fish (Apolemichthys arcuatus, Centropyge potteri, Chaetodon kleinii, Chromis leucura, Chromis verater, Forcipiger sp., Naso hexacanthus, and Parupeneus multifasciatus) were positively associated with increasing depth, Leptoseris sp. coral cover, and hard-bottom cover, and one species (Oxycheilinus bimaculatus) of fish was positively associated with increasing Halimeda sp. algae cover. Fish assemblages associated with rubble were not significantly different from those associated with sand, Montipora coral beds and Leptoseris coral beds, but were distinct from fish assemblages associated with hard bottom. The patterns in the data suggested two depth assemblages, one “upper mesophotic” between 53 and 95 m and the other deeper, possibly part of a “lower mesophotic” assemblage between 96 and 115 m at the edge of the rariphotic and bottomfish complex.

Depth range
53- 115 m

Mesophotic “mentions”
33 x (total of 4346 words)

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

Community structure
Management and Conservation

Overall benthic (groups)

USA - Hawaii

Drop / Towed Video
Manned Submersible
SCUBA (open-circuit or unspecified)

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