Kane and Tissot 2017

scientific article | Coral Reefs

Trophic designation and live coral cover predict changes in reef-fish community structure along a shallow to mesophotic gradient in Hawaii

Kane CN, Tissot BN


Reef-fish community structure and habitat associations are well documented for shallow coral reefs (<20 m) but are largely unknown in deeper extensions of reefs (mesophotic reefs; >30 m). We documented the community structure of fishes and seafloor habitat composition through visual observations at depth intervals from 3 to 50 m in West Hawaii. Community structure changed gradually with depth, with more than 78% of fish species observed at mesophotic depths also found in shallow reef habitats. Depth explained 17% of the variation in reef-fish community structure; live coral cover explained 10% and prevalence of sand accounted for 7% of the fitted variation indicating that depth-related factors and coral habitat play a predominant role in structuring these communities. Differences in community structure also appear to be linked closely with feeding behavior. Trophic designation accounted for 31% of the fitted variation, with changes in herbivore abundance accounting for 10% of the variation. These findings suggest that changes in reef-fish community composition from shallow to mesophotic environments are largely influenced by trophic position, coral habitat and indirect effects of depth itself.

Behind the science
Depth range
3- 50 m

Mesophotic “mentions”
66 x (total of 4482 words)

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

Community structure

Overall benthic (groups)

USA - Hawaii

SCUBA (open-circuit or unspecified)

Author profiles