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Title

Ecomorphological analysis as a complementary tool to detect changes in fish communities following major perturbations in two South African estuarine systems

AuthorsLombarte, Antoni ; Gordoa, Ana ; Whitfield, Alan K.; James, Nicola C.; Tuset, Víctor M.
KeywordsEcomorpholgy
Index of diversity
South African estuarine systems
Fish
Issue DateAug-2012
PublisherElsevier
CitationEnvironmental Biology of Fishes 94(4): 601-614 (2012)
AbstractEcomorphological changes as a result of natural perturbations in estuarine fish communities were investigated in two South African estuaries (Swartvlei and East Kleinemonde), both before and after the loss of aquatic macrophyte beds in these systems. The fish communities were analysed using an ecomorphological diversity index (EMI) and the results compared to a traditional index, the Shannon-Wiener diversity index. The EMI revealed that the major changes in fish community composition recorded in both estuaries were associated with quantitative variations at the species level. Both estuaries essentially lost their macrophyte beds and ended up with the same type of bottom habitat (bare sediment). In both cases the fish morphological variability decreased immediately after aquatic macrophyte loss and then increased to end above the initial value. The ecomorphological analysis appeared to be sensitive to major ecological disturbances that occurred during the study period and this was confirmed by the morphospace configuration. The results indicate that the ecomorphology of the fish community responds to habitat changes and that this change corresponds to alterations in the representation of the different feeding types. These findings therefore contribute to the measurement of morphological changes in estuarine fish assemblages as a result of habitat changes within the ecosystem and we propose that ecomorphological analyses add another dimension to the information provided by existing diversity indices in studying changing fish communities.
Description14 pages, 6 figures, 2 tables.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10641-011-9966-0
URIhttp://hdl.handle.net/10261/57567
DOI10.1007/s10641-011-9966-0
ISSN0378-1909
E-ISSN1573-5133
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