Azzurro, Ernesto and Pais, Antonio and Consoli, Pierpaolo and Andaloro, Franco (2007) Evaluating day-night changes in shallow Mediterranean rocky reef fish assemblages by visual census. Marine Biology, Vol. 151 (6), p. 2245-2253. eISSN 1432-1793. Article.
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Ecological information on coastal fish distribution patterns and habitat use can be greatly improved by nocturnal samplings and observations. To this purpose, the structure of a Mediterranean fish assemblage inhabiting the shallow rocky littoral of Linosa Island (Sicily Strait, Italy) was examined by using visual census to detect possible diel variations in species composition and abundance. Day–night fish distribution patterns were investigated by multivariate and univariate analyses. Overall, 42 fish taxa belonging to 19 families were recorded: 35 during the day and 24 during the night. Seventeen species were common to both diurnal and nocturnal assemblages. Within the diurnal assemblage, Chromis chromis was the most represented species (37.2%), followed by Thalassoma pavo (23.2%) and Sparisoma cretense (10.8%). Within the nocturnal assemblage, the most abundant taxon was Atherina spp. (33.9%), followed by Apogon imberbis (26.4%) and Boops boops (11.5%). Our results indicated wide variation in the abundance and species composition during the day and during the night. Multi Dimensional Scaling plot showed a clear-cut separation between the two assemblages and analysis of similarities found significant differences as well. SIMPER analysis revealed that ten species individually contributed by more than 2.5% to the dissimilarity between diurnal and nocturnal assemblages, T. pavo, C. chromis and S. cretense being the first three species in order of decreasing percentage. ANOVA performed on species richness and fish abundance detected significant differences between diurnal and nocturnal assemblages, the latter showing far lower average values for both variables.
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