Comparing relative abundance, lengths, and habitat of temperate reef fishes using simultaneous underwater visual census, video, and trap sampling

NM Bacheler, Nathan Geraldi, ML Burton, RC Muñoz, GT Kellison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Unbiased counts of individuals or species are often impossible given the prevalence of cryptic or mobile species. We used 77 simultaneous multi-gear deployments to make inferences about relative abundance, diversity, length composition, and habitat of the reef fish community along the southeastern US Atlantic coast. In total, 117 taxa were observed by underwater visual census (UVC), stationary video, and chevron fish traps, with more taxa being observed by UVC (100) than video (82) or traps (20). Frequency of occurrence of focal species was similar among all sampling approaches for tomtate Haemulon aurolineatum and black sea bass Centropristis striata, higher for UVC and video compared to traps for red snapper Lutjanus campechanus, vermilion snapper Rhomboplites aurorubens, and gray triggerfish Balistes capriscus, and higher for UVC compared to video or traps for gray snapper L. griseus and lionfish Pterois spp. For 6 of 7 focal species, correlations of relative abundance among gears were strongest between UVC and video, but there was substantial variability among species. The number of recorded species between UVC and video was correlated (ρ = 0.59), but relationships between traps and the other 2 methods were weaker. Lengths of fish visually estimated by UVC were similar to lengths of fish caught in traps, as were habitat characterizations from UVC and video. No gear provided a complete census for any species in our study, suggesting that analytical methods accounting for imperfect detection are necessary to make unbiased inferences about fish abundance.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-155
Number of pages15
JournalMarine Ecology Progress Series
StatePublished - Apr 28 2017

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: We thank D. Grenda, J. Hackney, M. Judge, D. Meyer, and B. Teer for field assistance, the captain and crew of the M/V ‘Spree’, and acknowledge reviews of previous versions of this manuscript by A. Chester, A. Hohn, M. Kar naus kas, and K. Shertzer. Funding was provided by the Marine Fisheries Initiative (in-house grant 13MFIH0006). Mention of trade names or commercial companies is for identification purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA.


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