Diurnal temporal patterns of the diversity and the abundance of reef fishes in a branching coral patch in New Caledonia

Small-scale spatial and temporal variability in animal abundance is an intrinsic characteristic of marine ecosystems but remains largely unknown for most animals, including coral reef fishes. In this study, we used a remote autonomous unbaited video system and recorded reef fish assemblages during daylight hours, 10 times a day for 34 consecutive days in a branching coral patch of the lagoon of New Caledonia. In total, 50 031 fish observations belonging to 114 taxa, 66 genera and 31 families were recorded in 256 recorded videos. Carnivores and herbivore-detritus feeders dominated the trophic structure. We found significant variations in the composition of fish assemblages between times of day. Taxa richness and fish abundance were greater in the early morning and in the late afternoon than during the day. Fourteen taxa displayed well-defined temporal patterns in abundance with one taxon influenced by time of day, six influenced by tidal state and seven influenced by both time of day and tidal state. None of these 14 taxa were piscivores, 10 were herbivore-detritus feeders, three were carnivores and one was plankton feeder. Our results suggest a diel migration from feeding grounds to shelter areas and highlight the importance of taking into account small-scale temporal variability in animal diversity and abundance when studying connectivity between habitats and monitoring communities.


coral reef fish, high-frequency sampling, patterns, temporal variation, underwater video

Full Text

Publisher's official version
124 Mo
Supplementary material 1. Summary of videos
6402 Ko
Appendix B. Summary species observed on all videos recorded
4314 Ko
Supplementary material 3. Examples of average density per time of day recorded for two species of each cluster defined in the cluster analysis
1232 Ko
Supplementary material 4. Examples of average density per tidal state
1143 Ko
Author's final draft
31910 Ko
How to cite
Mallet Delphine, Vigliola Laurent, Wantiez Laurent, Pelletier Dominique (2016). Diurnal temporal patterns of the diversity and the abundance of reef fishes in a branching coral patch in New Caledonia. Austral Ecology. 41 (7). 733-744. https://doi.org/10.1111/aec.12360, https://archimer.ifremer.fr/doc/00326/43755/

Copy this text