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High resolution study of the spatial distributions of abyssal fishes by autonomous underwater vehicle

High resolution study of the spatial distributions of abyssal fishes by autonomous underwater vehicle
High resolution study of the spatial distributions of abyssal fishes by autonomous underwater vehicle
On abyssal plains, demersal fish are believed to play an important role in transferring energy across the seafloor and between the pelagic and benthic realms. However, little is known about their spatial distributions, making it difficult to quantify their ecological significance. To address this, we employed an autonomous underwater vehicle to conduct an exceptionally large photographic survey of fish distributions on the Porcupine Abyssal Plain (NE Atlantic, 4850?m water depth) encompassing two spatial scales (1–10?km2) on and adjacent to a small abyssal hill (240?m elevation). The spatial distributions of the total fish fauna and that of the two dominant morphotypes (Coryphaenoides sp. 1 and C. profundicolus) appeared to be random, a result contrary to common expectation but consistent with previous predictions for these fishes. We estimated total fish density on the abyssal plain to be 723 individuals km?2 (95% CI: 601–844). This estimate is higher, and likely more precise, than prior estimates from trawl catch and baited camera techniques (152 and 188 individuals km?2 respectively). We detected no significant difference in fish density between abyssal hill and plain, nor did we detect any evidence for the existence of fish aggregations at any spatial scale assessed.
26095
Milligan, R.J.
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Morris, K.J.
2841c3b0-d4e2-47ea-9358-7220af699e54
Bett, B.J.
61342990-13be-45ae-9f5c-9540114335d9
Durden, J.M.
d7101246-b76b-44bc-8956-8ca4ae62ae1f
Jones, D.O.B.
44fc07b3-5fb7-4bf5-9cec-78c78022613a
Robert, K.
49e4bfa2-0999-41ec-b50d-65c0f8896583
Ruhl, H.A.
177608ef-7793-4911-86cf-cd9960ff22b6
Bailey, D.M.
0d4b3901-760a-42d2-9623-f98e5afb9719
Milligan, R.J.
1b8dcae8-af8c-478f-8f3c-63c79b439561
Morris, K.J.
2841c3b0-d4e2-47ea-9358-7220af699e54
Bett, B.J.
61342990-13be-45ae-9f5c-9540114335d9
Durden, J.M.
d7101246-b76b-44bc-8956-8ca4ae62ae1f
Jones, D.O.B.
44fc07b3-5fb7-4bf5-9cec-78c78022613a
Robert, K.
49e4bfa2-0999-41ec-b50d-65c0f8896583
Ruhl, H.A.
177608ef-7793-4911-86cf-cd9960ff22b6
Bailey, D.M.
0d4b3901-760a-42d2-9623-f98e5afb9719

Milligan, R.J., Morris, K.J., Bett, B.J., Durden, J.M., Jones, D.O.B., Robert, K., Ruhl, H.A. and Bailey, D.M. (2016) High resolution study of the spatial distributions of abyssal fishes by autonomous underwater vehicle. Scientific Reports, 6, 26095. (doi:10.1038/srep26095).

Record type: Article

Abstract

On abyssal plains, demersal fish are believed to play an important role in transferring energy across the seafloor and between the pelagic and benthic realms. However, little is known about their spatial distributions, making it difficult to quantify their ecological significance. To address this, we employed an autonomous underwater vehicle to conduct an exceptionally large photographic survey of fish distributions on the Porcupine Abyssal Plain (NE Atlantic, 4850?m water depth) encompassing two spatial scales (1–10?km2) on and adjacent to a small abyssal hill (240?m elevation). The spatial distributions of the total fish fauna and that of the two dominant morphotypes (Coryphaenoides sp. 1 and C. profundicolus) appeared to be random, a result contrary to common expectation but consistent with previous predictions for these fishes. We estimated total fish density on the abyssal plain to be 723 individuals km?2 (95% CI: 601–844). This estimate is higher, and likely more precise, than prior estimates from trawl catch and baited camera techniques (152 and 188 individuals km?2 respectively). We detected no significant difference in fish density between abyssal hill and plain, nor did we detect any evidence for the existence of fish aggregations at any spatial scale assessed.

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Accepted/In Press date: 26 April 2016
e-pub ahead of print date: 16 May 2016
Published date: 16 May 2016
Organisations: Ocean and Earth Science, Marine Biogeochemistry

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Local EPrints ID: 394668
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/394668
PURE UUID: 43c98805-ebbe-4dbd-9908-6f0e09d01d1c

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Date deposited: 17 May 2016 15:51
Last modified: 08 Jan 2022 03:31

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Contributors

Author: R.J. Milligan
Author: K.J. Morris
Author: B.J. Bett
Author: J.M. Durden
Author: D.O.B. Jones
Author: K. Robert
Author: H.A. Ruhl
Author: D.M. Bailey

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