Date of Submission

12-15-2020

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Biology and Environmental Sciences

Advisor

Roman Zajac, Ph.D.

Keywords

Hard Bottom Habitats, Fish Community Diversity, Fish Diversity Patterns

LCSH

Marine habitats, Fishes--Ecology, San Salvador Island (Bahamas)

Abstract

The island of San Salvador, Bahamas is home to a wide array of fishes on patch reefs and surrounding hard bottom habitats. Exploring how different components of diversity vary across spatial scales can provide important insights as to factors that promote and maintain α-diversity within habitats, β-diversity among habitats, and how these contribute to overall γ-diversity. The purpose of this study was to assess fish community diversity at different sites around the island to understand diversity patterns across multiple spatial and temporal scales. Data was collected from thirteen sites across five regions and included three different habitat types: patch reefs, high relief, and rubble sites. GoPro footage was collected then uploaded to Behavioral Observation Research Interactive Software (BORIS) to quantify the fish community composition down to the lowest possible taxonomic level. Multivariate statistics and additive partitioning were utilized to assess diversity patterns. A total of 55 species were observed and one-way ANOVA tests yielded significant differences in species richness among regions and sites. In all instances, β₂ (among sites within a region) and β₃ (among different regions) diversity contributed greater than expected numbers of species to γ-diversity in the island’s nearshore environment, accounting for over half of the observed total species richness. nMDS analyses revealed different levels of dissimilarity among regions, sites, and habitat types. Species rarefaction and accumulation curves indicate that more species are likely present. The collection of different habitat types and sites each make contributions to overall γ-diversity in the system. Therefore, all the sites that were sampled in this study contribute to overall island diversity and should be considered in conservation and management. The results of this study provide a more expansive consideration of fish diversity patterns among nearshore habitats around San Salvador.

Available for download on Saturday, December 16, 2023

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