Volume 59

Variations in Juvenile Fish Density Along the Mangrove-Seagrass-Coral Reef Continuum in Southwestern Puerto Rico

Aguilar-Perera, A., Appeldoorn, R.S.
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Date: November, 2006

Pages: 639

Event: Proceedings of the Fifty Nine Annual Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute

City: Belize City

Country: Belize


Despite an extensive study of the fish community off southwestern Puerto Rico, little information is available on the relative importance of mangroves, seagrass beds, and shallow-water coral reefs as nursery areas. We investigated the extent to which 20 selected, reef-associated fish species use the mangrove and seagrass as nurseries in contrast to the use of shallow-water coral reefs. Stratified sampling was applied to quantify the variability of juvenile fish densities along the mangrove-seagrass-coral reef continuum following an inshore-offshore gradient. We recorded 28,758 individuals (in 7 families), with juveniles accounting for 80%. Significant variations in juvenile densities were evident. The importance of mangroves and seagrass for harboring juveniles was found to be relative and species-specific. In the majority of cases shallow-coral reefs showed higher densities than mangroves and seagrass. Ontogenetic migration of juveniles through the continuum was evident. Results highlight the importance of including this continuum within coastal management through marine reserves

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