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Environmental Biology of Fishes 29: 241-262, 1990.

C 1990 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.

Community structure of fishes attracted to shallow water fish aggregation devices off South Carolina, U.S.A.

Rodney A. Rountree

Grice Marine Biological Laboratory, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC29412, U.S.A.

Present address: Center for Coastal and Environmental Studies, Rutgers Marine Field Station, Great Bay Boulevard, Tuckerton, NJ 08087, U.S.A.

Received 27.3.1989    Accepted 7.11.1989

Key words: FADS, Artificial reef, Competition, Population regulation, Fish assemblages, Spatial zonation, Food web, Production, Trophic structure


Twenty-two fish aggregation devices were deployed in 14 m of water off South Carolina.  Species composition and abundance were determined by diver visual census on eight occasions from May through November, 1985.  A total of 21families and 36 species of fishes was observed at 121 stations.  Pelagic fishes dominated the fauna with a 99.3 relative abundance, and Decapterus punctatus accounted for 97.6 of the individuals. Caranx crysos, Diplectrumformosum, Decapterus punctatus, Centropristis striata and Monacanthus hispidus were the most frequent species.  Total fish abundance, number of species and abundance off our of the six most common species were significantly affected by season. Hurricane activity may have caused a significant drop in pelagic fish abundance at the FADs in July.  No significant correlations among species abundances were found after removal of season and FAD type effects.  Spatial zonation and seasonal occurrence patterns suggest some competition among pelagic fishes. Several factors that regulate FAD faunal abundance and composition are hypothesized, including: juvenile fish availability, availability of shelter, availability of adequate food resources, interspecific and intraspecific competition, severe sea conditions, and sporadic intrusions of large predatory fishes.  It is hypothesized that the abundances of benthic and pelagic FAD fishes are correlated and that there is a direct or indirect energetic link between shallow water pelagic and benthic fish assemblages near FADS.

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