We surveyed fish communities and corresponding environmental conditions at three broadly similar coastal sites of eastern Andros Island, The Bahamas over a summer-winter-summer sequence to assess the relationship between detailed environmental features and fish species patterns. Environmental variables included covers of various benthic flora components, benthic flora diversity, floral canopy height, micro-crustacean diversity and density, water temperature, extent of destructive land-use and extent of invasion by human-introduced exotic terrestrial plants. Correspondence analysis (CA) indicated that spatial (site) differences in environmental characteristics were greater than temporal (seasonal) differences. Detrended canonical correspondence analysis (DCCA) was used to assess the strength of relationships between the environmental characteristics and the distribution patterns of 25 fish species. Environmental features deemed to be most important in influencing fish species patterns included benthic flora canopy height, extent of invasion by exotic terrestrial plants, cover of Batophora oerstedii, cover of Thalassia testudinum, turf cover, water temperature, micro-crustacean diversity, and micro-crustacean density. Based upon similarities in distribution patterns, fish species formed four clusters which, ultimately, reflected similarities in species' feeding habits and preferences for habitats that likely maximize foraging success. We conclude that fish distribution patterns are related to environmental characteristics, and that anthropogenic coastal activity, by influencing coastal benthic characteristics, may influence the distribution and abundances of fish species in coastal habitats.
- Benthic flora-fauna interactions
- Detrended canonical correspondence analysis
- Fish-habitat relationships
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Aquatic Science