September 2017

3D Habitat Complexity metrics improve predictions of fish distribution and abundance

Our paper on how to use surface rugosity and other 3D metrics to predict fish distributions and abundance was published by Ecography recently!

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Trumpet fish camouflages while hunting amongst the branches of a soft coral

We used underwater robots to map in 3D the ocean floor and then measured different aspects of the reef structural complexity. We also used bated underwater cameras to measure fish abundance and developed advanced statistical models to relate and predict the distribution and abundance of fish with 3D habitat complexity metrics!

Turns out not all reefs with high habitat complexity have more fish, neither more diversity! This was a surprise, but once I thought about it it made sense. Some fish, for example predators, do like complex reefs while others, like herbivores, prefer flatter reefs. Perhaps this is because herbivores like having a bit of space to detect predators? Or because they need more space to be able to flee a predator before they get caught?

Learn more in: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ecog.02580/abstract

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Fish hide amongst corals
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