Characterization of tropical near-shore fish communities by coastal habitat status on spatially complex island systems

Vanessa L. Nero, Kathleen Sullivan Sealey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


We present a protocol for characterizing near-shore fish habitat as well as fish communities for Andros Island, Bahamas, a complex coastal-reef island system. Benthic assessments and beach seine surveys were carried out at sites varying in coastal and benthic characteristics. Temporal variability affected fish community composition, indicating that attempts to characterize a fish community should include sampling evenly across tides, times of day, and seasons. Univariate and multivariate analyses revealed that each site harbored a unique fish community, with the greatest variability within each site attributed to seasonal changes. Measures of diversity (Shannon-Weiner Index and number of species) were markedly different at sites with varying coverage of seagrass and macro-algae and extents of disturbance. Total abundance of fishes was positively related to the percent of bare sand. We suggest that thorough sampling of coastal fish communities can be applied to comparative and long-term studies. This protocol for the characterization of complex island habitats can be applied to ecological studies aimed at understanding the responses of fishes to small-scale changes in coastal areas and habitat structure due to land use and shoreline alterations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)437-444
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Biology of Fishes
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2005


  • Beach seines
  • Community composition
  • Sampling
  • Variability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology


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