Study ID 359

SBC LTER Reef Kelp Forest Community Dynamics Fish abundance

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Realm: Marine
Climate: Temperate
Biome: Temperate shelf and seas ecoregions
Central latitude: 34.308906
Central longitude: -119.874156
Duration: 13 years, from 2000 to 2012

3285 records

61 distinct species

Across the time series Embiotoca jacksoni is the most frequently occurring species


Reed, D. C. (2014) “SBC LTER: Reef: Kelp Forest Community Dynamics: Fish abundance”. Santa Barbara Coastal LTER. Available at: doi:10.6073/pasta/e37ed29111b2fddffc08355252b8b8c7, accessed 2016.


The number size and species identity of reef fish are recorded within a 2 m wide swath centered along each transect extending 2 m off the bottom. A diver swims the length of the 40 m transect approximately 1m above the bottom at a constant deliberate speed and records all fish passing through the sampling area. Fish size is measured as total length (TL) estimated to the nearest cm. Care is taken by the diver to not count the same individual more than once if it leaves and re-enters the sampling area. Surveys are carried out by only a select number of highly trained divers whose sampling techniques have been standardized in order to minimize observer bias. The horizontal visibility along the transect is measured and recorded for each sampling event. The number of fish taxa sampled is not fixed as all species of reef fish encountered in the sampling area are recorded. Species that are difficult to identify underwater are lumped into broader taxonomic categories (e.g. flatfish in the family Bothidae) to facilitate sampling. Several species of small bottom-dwelling fish are difficult to accurately count and size during the reef fish survey due to their cryptic appearance and behavior. Individuals in a select group of these species are counted and sized in a separate survey done in the four contiguous 20 m x 1 m swaths that centered on the 40 m transect (Figure 1). A diver carefully searches the area within each swath taking time to look on the undersides of ledges and in crevices and within understory vegetation for select species of small cryptic fish which are purposely not counted in the reef fish survey. Understory algae are brushed aside during the search but no organisms or boulders are physically moved. Size is recorded as total length (TL) to the nearest cm. The species of small cryptic fish counted in this survey are listed in Table 1. Measuring abundance of bird species by counting breeding pairs Unit of abundance = IndCountInt, Unit of biomass = NA