| A survey design performance analysis examining linkages between reef fish assemblages and benthic morphologies in the Main Hawaiian Islands - :16388 | National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)
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A survey design performance analysis examining linkages between reef fish assemblages and benthic morphologies in the Main Hawaiian Islands
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    "Coral reefs are structurally complex and heterogeneous marine ecosystems whose physical structure is known to influence ecological processes such as predation, competition, and recruitment (Hixon and Beets, 1993). Many species of reef fish depend on coral reefs for food, shelter, and habitat and are thus behaviorally influenced by the geomorphological structure of coral reefs (Sutton, 1985). A number of studies have demonstrated associations between fish assemblages and geomorphological benthic structure (e.g., Friedlander and Parrish, 1998; Richards et al., 2012; Williams et al., 2015), however these relationships appear to vary widely across studies, likely due to biogeographical differences and the different spatial scales being considered (Mellin et al., 2009). Understanding the relationships that link reef fish assemblages with their underlying habitats is important to conservation practitioners and managers. For example, it can also be used in assessing the relative importance of environmental features and provide insight as to which habitat areas should be prioritized for conservation purposes (i.e., marine spatial planning, Pittman and Brown, 2011). From a fisheries management perspective, developing an improved understanding of linkages between fishes and their habitat is important for identifying legislatively defined 'essential fish habitat' and for reducing habitat-related uncertainty in stock assessments (National Marine Fisheries Service, 2010). Furthermore, habitat-biota relationships are important for informing the design of stratified random surveys, whereby the environment (i.e., survey domain) is partitioned into discreet strata, and the amount of survey effort (e.g., the number of surveys) allocated to each stratum is based on its area and variance. The latter is most related to the Coral Reef Ecosystem Program (CREP) and its implementation of the Pacific Reef Assessment and Monitoring Program (Pacific-RAMP). CREP uses a stratified random survey design, but currently, only depth and reef zone are typically used as environmental correlates. Here, we derive several geomorphologic characteristics from bathymetric LiDAR data and investigate their relationship to different fish assemblage summary metrics collected from underwater visual census surveys. Specifically, we explore the possibility of adding geomorphological strata to the CREP reef fish survey design. We do this by comparing survey design efficiency of depth-only stratification vs. depth and geomorphology stratification. Overall, our goal is to use this enhanced understanding of habitat-biota relationships to improve future reef fish survey designs"--Introduction. [doi:10.7289/V5/TM-PIFSC-64 (https://doi.org/10.7289/V5/TM-PIFSC-64)]

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