Resident Cryptic Fishes Associated With Artificial Reefs in the Mississippi Sound: High Versus Low Profile Structures
Matten, Claire. Department of Coastal Sciences, University of Southern Mississippi, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, 703 East Beach Drive, Ocean Springs, MS 39564; 228-872-4239; email@example.com
Rakocinski, Chet. Department of Coastal Sciences, University of Southern Mississippi, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, 703 East Beach Drive, Ocean Springs, MS 39564; 228-872-4284; firstname.lastname@example.org
Abstract: Resident cyptic fishes associated with artificial reefs can be highly abundant and ecologically important as a trophic link between benthic fauna and transient fishes. We examined the communities of cryptic fishes associated with two types of artificial reef design in the Mississippi Sound. Minnow traps and substrate baskets modified to serve as habitat sample units were used to collect cryptic fishes at two high profile concrete rubble reefs and two low profile oyster shell/rubble artificial reefs during spring and summer seasons. A total of 2,206 fish representing 18 taxa were sampled between September 2011 and August 2012. The most abundant cryptic species occurring across all sites, regardless of profile type, were Gobiosoma bosc and Gobiesox strumosus. Both species richness and catch per unit effort were significantly lower on high profile than low profile reefs, which was partly attributed to the absence of Hypleurochilus spp. and Hypsoblennius hentzfrom the high profile samples. In addition, we examined diet composition for the dominant resident cryptic species across reef types and size-class ranges. Analysis of diet composition and available food resources revealed multiple connections within the reef food web.
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