Project proposal details

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Project title
Predator fish assemblages and habitat associations in Tremadog Bay
Contact name
Tom B Letessier
Project based at
Zoological Society of London
Project description
The Pen Ll?n A’r Sarnau Special Area of Conservation (SAC) situated in Cardigan Bay, Wales is designated for a range of Annex I habitats and includes reefs of both biogenic concretions and geogenic origin. The rocky reefs provide important habitats for a diverse range of fish species. Fish assemblages survey have been carried out by SCUBA or data collected as part of Seasearch (volunteer diver marine life and habitat recording program www.seasearch.org.uk/index.html), although these typically undersample large and predatory fish species (Watson et al. 2005; 2010) that are often commercially valuables and of conservation concern.
Baited remote underwater video systems (BRUVS) have become a popular method to assess high trophic-level fish assemblages due to their cost, non-destructive / non-extractive nature along with their ease of use, archivable footage and replicability (Whitmarsh et al. 2016). BRUVS are currently used for a wide variety of purposes, ranging from species-specific behavioral information to community analyses of species diversity and richness, particularly within marine protected areas (Letessier et al. 2019), and have gained popularity with the development of low cost action cameras (Letessier et al. 2015; Struthers et al. 2015). Very few BRUVs surveys have been carried out along the Welsh coast, exceptions include studies primarily focused on sensitive marine habitats such Seagrass (Zostera marina) beds, kelp (Laminaria digitata) and horse mussel (Modiolus modiolus) (Hinder et al. 2013) The use of BRUVS may provide valuable insights on fish assemblages and associated habitats in the region, in particular for elasmobranchs, rare and shy fish species (Such as Black bream (Spondyliosoma cantharu)) which are often seen less by divers.
During the Summer of 2017 88 BRUVs deployments totaling 102 hours were collected within North Cardigan Bay (Tremadog Bay) as part of the ‘Guardian Angels Project’. The project funded by Save Our Seas Foundation and Natural Resources Wales in collaboration with Angel Shark Project: Wales involved trialing the use of BRUVS as a monitoring for the Critically Endangered Angelshark (Squatina squatina): https://saveourseas.com/project/guardian-angels/. Deployment of the BRUVS took place in the Pen Ll?n A’r Sarnau SAC.
The current study intends to focus particularly on elasmobranchs, rare, shy (e.g. those not normally observed by divers) and seasonal fish species in the area.
This project aims to:
1) Analyse video footage derived from BRUVs to determine species richness and relative abundance of fish species with a key focus on predators, elasmobranchs, rare and shy fish species.
2) Determine species association with different habitats and fish community structure relationships across and within sites/stations
3) Investigate species relationships and potential environmental drivers e.g. temperature, depth, remoteness.
4) Identify temporal and seasonal changes in species assemblage – Adults / Juveniles: Seen changes in the number of Catsharks (Schyliorhinus canicula / stellaris) and Black Bream (Spondyliosoma cantharu).
References

Ellis JR, Cruz-Martínez A, Rackham BD, Rogers SI. 2005. The Distribution of Chondrichthyan Fishes Around the British Isles and Implications for Conservation. Journal of Northwest Atlantic Fishery Science 35: 195-213. Academia.
Ellis JR, Rogers SI, Freeman SM. 2000. Demersal Assemblages in the Irish Sea, St Georges Channel and Bristol Channel. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. 51, 299-315.vliz.be.
Hinder SL, Peters JR, McCloskey RM, Callaway RM, Unsworth RKF. 2013. Investigation sensitive marine habitats around Wales using Stereo Baited Remote Underwater Video Systems (BRUVS. CCW Contract Science Report 1023:22.
Letessier TB et al. 2019. Remote reefs and seamounts are the last refuges for marine predators across the Indo-Pacific. PLoS Biology 17:e3000366.
Letessier TB, Juhel J-B, Vigliola L, Meeuwig JJ. 2015. Low-cost small action cameras in stereo generate accurate measurements of fish. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 466:120–126. Elsevier B.V.
Struthers DP, Danylchuk AJ, Wilson ADM, Cooke SJ. 2015. Action Cameras: Bringing Aquatic and Fisheries Research into View. Fisheries … 40:502–512.
Watson DL, Harvey ES, Anderson MJ, Kendrick GA. 2005. A comparison of temperate reef fish assemblages recorded by three underwater stereo-video techniques. Marine Biology 148:415–425.
Watson DL, Harvey ES, Fitzpatrick BM, Langlois T, Shedrawi G. 2010. Assessing reef fish assemblage structure: how do different stereo-video techniques compare? Marine Biology 157:1237–1250. Springer Berlin / Heidelberg.
Whitmarsh SK, Fairweather PG, Huveneers C. 2016. What is Big BRUVver up to? Methods and uses of baited underwater video. Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries 27:53–73. Springer International Publishing.


Additional requirements
Fish taxonomy, Spatial statistics
Available support
Desk-space
Date uploaded
2019-11-20

Project proposal limitations

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Project length limitations
5 months, 9 months