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Habitat Connectivity of Fish in Temperate Shallow-Water Seascapes
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4329-9052
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences.
2018 (English)In: Frontiers in Marine Science, E-ISSN 2296-7745, Vol. 4, article id 440Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Movements of organisms comprise a fundamental aspect of coastal habitat connectivity. Determining the distribution and co-existence of habitat specialists and generalists in shallow-water seascapes leads to a better understanding of the strength of connectivity-driven community patterns in coastal areas. In this study, unbaited Remote Underwater Video (RUV) systems were used to examine habitat usage and connectivity of fish within six shallow-water coastal seascapes on the Swedish west coast. Within each seascape, video sampling was conducted at three different shallow-water habitats: seagrass meadows, rock-macroalgae and unvegetated areas, in June 2014. Comparative analyses showed that the shallow-water fish community was similar in adjacent habitats within a seascape, though abundances of fish were higher within the structurally complex habitats. All habitats were dominated by juveniles, highlighting the importance of the coastal seascape for early fish life stages. The findings demonstrate that adjacent shallow-water habitats in temperate coastal waters are linked through similar species utilization and that the coastal matrix could be regarded in terms of a seascape nursery for fish. The study highlights the importance of considering shallow-water seascape connectivity in coastal conservation planning and management.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. Vol. 4, article id 440
Keywords [en]
fish assemblages, RUV, seascape nursery, habitat connectivity, marine coastal ecosystem
National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Marine Ecology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-158218DOI: 10.3389/fmars.2017.00440OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-158218DiVA, id: diva2:1235398
Available from: 2018-07-25 Created: 2018-07-25 Last updated: 2019-03-12Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Swedish seagrass ecosystems in a changing climate: Coastal connectivity and global change sensitivity
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Swedish seagrass ecosystems in a changing climate: Coastal connectivity and global change sensitivity
2018 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Coastal shallow-water ecosystems are essential for providing several goods and services globally, with seagrasses as an important contributor for maintaining high biodiversity and productivity within the nearshore seascape. The temperate species Zostera marina serves as a vital habitat for many species, including ecologically and economically important juvenile fish. Ecological patterns and processes within the shallow-water seascape are driven by a multitude of factors, for instance food-web dynamics, species interactions, habitat configuration, oceanographic hydrodynamics, and influenced by human impacts, all occurring at different spatial and temporal scales. A complex interworking of abiotic and biotic processes takes place within the coastal environment with the system expected to be impacted by future climate changes. This scientific work contributes to the ecological understanding of coastal marine ecosystems by examining connectivity and disturbance effects on multiple spatiotemporal scales. 

The thesis consists of two main themes: 1) evaluation of the influence of seascape structure on seagrass fish communities at different scales, and 2) understanding species’ physiological responses to multiple global change stressors in Z. marina meadows, and the regional implications of these results. The work focused on temperate Swedish coastal waters. To address these themes a variety of methods were performed including a seascape ecology field approach, experimental laboratory work and spatial modeling. The results contribute to the understanding of seascape connectivity and the impact of disturbance from climate-related stressors on the shallow-water ecosystem and associated fish communities. 

The results highlight the importance of evaluating fish assemblages at multiple spatial scales, from within-meadow characteristics to region-wide geographical features. Generally, fish with higher site fidelity were found to be influenced by smaller scale (meters) habitat characteristics, while broader ranging, more migratory species showed impacts on a larger scale (kilometers). It was also shown that the shallow-water environment has a fish assemblage overlap, with the same species found within multiple coastal habitats, dominated by juvenile fish (in summer), thus constituting a shallow-water seascape nursery. Regarding the consequences of global change the thesis showed that, while individual global change stressors can have either positive, negative or neutral affects depending on the species in question, all trophic levels of the mesocosm study showed a deleterious stress response to multiple stressors combined. With the significance of these laboratory results in mind, the final risk assessment identified three high-risk regions for seagrass meadows along parts of the Swedish coast that are expected to be exposed to a high degree of change from multiple coinciding global stressors by the end of the century.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences, Stockholm University, 2018
Keywords
coastal seascape, shallow-water ecosystems, fish assemblages, connectivity, global change, climate change, multiple stressors, seagrass, Zostera marina, temperate region
National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Marine Ecology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-158420 (URN)978-91-7797-375-1 (ISBN)978-91-7797-374-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2018-09-14, Vivi Täckholmsalen (Q-salen), NPQ-huset, Svante Arrhenius väg 20, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 4: Submitted. Paper 5: Manuscript.

Available from: 2018-08-22 Created: 2018-07-31 Last updated: 2018-08-22Bibliographically approved
2. Fish in the coastal seascape: exploring ecological processes and connectivity for conservation of temperate fish communities
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Fish in the coastal seascape: exploring ecological processes and connectivity for conservation of temperate fish communities
2019 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The need to understand patterns and processes in the marine environment has never been so profound as today, particularly as anthropogenic pressures upon coastal regions are drastically affecting habitats and species across a vast range. One approach to further understand these patterns and processes is through the use of seascape ecology methods. Pertinently, fish are ideal candidates to use in many seascape ecological studies due to their mobility and potential to connect a multitude of patches and habitats throughout their life cycle. They also serve as fundamental components in coastal food webs and are of economic benefit. This thesis strives to answer how fish assemblages are affected by ecological and environmental patterns and changes in temperate seascapes throughout the Swedish Skagerrak and the Baltic Sea. 

Initially, the spatial arrangement of benthic habitat patches in coastal Skagerrak was investigated in relation to the fish community inhabiting seagrass meadows. Seascape structure and complexity was shown to create optimal or sub-optimal areas for certain parts of the fish community. For instance, simpler seascapes (e.g. less habitat patches and edges) were found to have a higher density of juvenile fish, while wrasse densities were related to more complex seascapes. This offers insights into the consequences of spatial patterning in the marine environment and possible effects of habitat loss in the ecosystem (paper I). Through surveying fish assemblages in common, shallow-water habitats, the more structurally complex habitats, i.e. seagrass and macroalgae, were found to harbour a greater fish abundance compared to the less complex unvegetated soft bottoms. However, all three habitats were deemed important for their role in supporting juvenile fish species, thus suggesting that embayments in this environment might function as seascape nurseries (paper II). The importance of connectivity of a marine predator was discovered using acoustic telemetry and network analysis. This study demonstrated that sea surface temperature was of major importance for Atlantic cod movement dynamics within a fjord system as well as revealing the significance of localised connectivity at varying spatial and temporal scales (paper III). Finally, spatial pattern relationships and fish assemblages were explored in Baltic seagrass meadows. Fish assemblages were dominated by meso-predators (i.e. three-spined stickleback) both during summer and autumn, with a noticeable lack of larger piscivorous species throughout both seasons. Correlative analysis showed that fish densities were influenced by seagrass habitat structure (negatively), area of bare sediment (negatively) and habitat patch diversity (positively) (paper IV).  

This thesis has lifted a central role in addressing important seascape ecology questions and tools in the temperate marine environment. Specifically, it highlights the importance of analysing patterns and processes at multiple scales to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the relationships between fish and their environments, which is relevant for marine spatial planning and conservation. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences, Stockholm University, 2019. p. 37
Keywords
seascape ecology, landscape ecology, seagrass, marine habitats, fish, spatial analysis, connectivity, conservation, Sweden, temperate
National Category
Natural Sciences
Research subject
Marine Ecology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-166242 (URN)978-91-7797-590-8 (ISBN)978-91-7797-591-5 (ISBN)
Public defence
2019-05-03, Vivi Täckholmsalen (Q-salen), NPQ-Huset, Svante Arrhenius väg 20, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 3: Manuscript. Paper 4: Manuscript.

Available from: 2019-04-10 Created: 2019-03-12 Last updated: 2019-03-28Bibliographically approved

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