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J Fish Biol. 2011 Dec;79(7):1984-2006. doi: 10.1111/j.1095-8649.2011.03138.x. Epub 2011 Nov 17.

Reef fish structure and distribution in a south-western Atlantic Ocean tropical island.

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Departamento de Oceanografia e Ecologia, Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo, Av. F. Ferrari, 514, Goiabeiras 29075-910, Vitória, Espírito Santo, Brazil.


The community structure of the reef fish fauna of Trindade Island, a volcanic oceanic island located 1160 km off the coast of Brazil, is described based on intensive visual censuses. Seventy-six species were encountered in 252 censuses, with mean ± S.E. of 99 ± 3 individuals and 15.7 ± 0.3 species 40 m(-2) transect. The average fish biomass, calculated from length-class estimation, was 22.1 kg 40 m(-2) transect. The species contributing most to biomass were, in decreasing order, Melichthys niger, Cephalopholis fulva, Kyphosus spp., Holocentrus adscensionis, Sparisoma amplum, Sparisoma axillare, Acanthurus bahianus and Epinephelus adscensionis. Carnivorous fishes were the largest trophic group in terms of biomass, followed by omnivores and roving herbivores. The two predominant types of reef habitat, fringing reefs built by coralline algae and rocky reefs made of volcanic boulders, showed significant differences in the biomass and the abundance of the trophic guilds. Within each habitat type, significant differences in species richness, density and biomass were detected among crest, slope and interface zones. Although similar in overall species composition to coastal reefs in Brazil, the fish fauna of Trindade Island shares certain characteristics, such as a high abundance of planktivores, with other Brazilian oceanic islands. Despite comparatively high fish biomass, including the macro-carnivorous species habitually targeted by fisheries, signs of overfishing were evident. These findings highlight the urgency for a conservation initiative for this isolated, unique and vulnerable reef system.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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