Ellis, G., Zokan, M., Lorenz, J., and Loftus, B., 2003, Big Cypress National Preserve Freshwater Fish Inventory and Monitoring Final Report.
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The goal of this project was to fulfill the requirements of the National Park Service Inventory and Monitoring Program by documenting at least 90% of the freshwater fish species found within Big Cypress National Preserve (BICY).
Three hundred and seventy sites have been sampled and 64 freshwater
fish species have been documented using mulitlpe trapping methods gill
nets, cast nets, dip nets, and electrofishing. Of these 64 fish documented
nine were non-native species. This investigation has been the first
to document the Jewel Cichlid (Hemichromis
letourneauxi) and the Brown Hoplo (Hoplosternum
littorale) within the Big Cypress National Preserve. The greatest
diversity of species was found within the canals of BICY, which supported
62 of the 64 species. These fish are believed to have come from the
Gulf of Mexico, or are large, open-water freshwater species that are
ill-suited to seasonal wetland habitats. Coastal marshes supported a
large number of species due to their close proximities to estuaries.
Fifteen of the 64 species of fish were present in all of the seasonal
freshwater wetland habitats.
The authors estimate that they have surpassed the Inventory and Monitoring goal of documenting 90% of the freshwater fish species in BICY.
Dr. Jerome J. Lorenz National Audubon Society's Tavernier Science Center
Ellis, G., Loftus, B., Lorenz, J., Zokan, M., 2002-2003. Biscayne National Park Freshwater Fish Inventory and Monitoring Final Report.
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This project intends to fulfill the needs of the NPS Inventory and Monitoring Program for freshwater fishes in Biscayne National Park (BISC) by documenting 90% of the species of vertebrates and vascular plants found within NPS properties. This study also intends to provide useful reference data on the fishes of the southern Miami-Dade County canal system. Sampling data was collected through minnow trap sets, visual surveys, and cast netting at BISC. Freshwater fish are found in the park within the Miami-Dade canal system, which empties either into Biscayne Bay or close proximity to it. The 2002-2003 study resulted in the capture and identification of 866 individuals of 33 species. Non-native fishes accounted for 10 of the observed species (44% of overall catch). Fourteen euryhaline species were collected from the canals, while the remaining species were a subset of native freshwater fish that are found in South Florida. The best estimates for the total number of freshwater fish species present in the study area ranges from 30 to 80 species. While it is difficult to estimate with certainty what percentage of species established in the area have been recorded here, it is probable that all the dominant members of the local fish fauna have been captured in this study, and the goal of the Inventory and Monitoring project was met.
Dr. Jerome J. Lorenz National Audubon Society's Tavernier Science Center
Akins, L., 2005-2006. Biscayne Cryptic Reef Fish Inventory.
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As part of a priority to gather complete inventories of NPS biological resources in an ecologically sensitive manner, REEF was contracted to pilot a visual census of reef fishes in BNP waters to include all habitat types and depth ranges within park boundaries. The methods used in this survey were non-extractive (with the exception of 15 specimens collected for the BNP museum collection), utilized volunteer expert observers and included large spatial coverage of various BNP habitats.
Lad Atkins Reed Environmental Education Foundation
Island Reef National Monument
Smith-Vaniz, W.F., Jelks, H.L., and Rocha L.A., Relevance of Cryptic Fishes in Biodiversity Assessments: A Case Study at Buck Island Reef National Monument, St. Croix. Bulletin of Marine Science, 79(1): 17-48, 2006.
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Cryptic fish are generally an under sampled component of coral reef habitats due to their extremely effective camouflage (low detection). The goals of this case study are to: present a base-line inventory of cryptic reef and shoreline fishes inhabiting shallow-water habitats at Buck Island Reef National Monument (BIRNM), compare fish distributions and relative abundance patterns among the sampled habitats, and compare the results of Rotenone (an ichthyocide used for scientific collection of small, shallow water fishes) sampling with independently conducted underwater visual censuses (UvC).
Fifty-five families and 228 species were reported. Only 8% of the 228
species were present in all habitats. While visual surveys accumulated
more species per unit effort, Rotenone samples accumulated more species
in a given area. Thirty-six percent of the 228 species sampled with
Rotenone were visually detected, 70% of 115 species visually detected
were also collected with Rotenone, and 31% of the 262 total species
were common in both techniques.
Because St. Croix is centrally located in the tropical eastern Caribbean Sea, as expected, most of the BIRNM fishes were broadly distributed West Indies species. We recorded the presence of an additional 60 species absent from the earlier studies. The majority of these fishes were cryptic species that would be very difficult to detect without the use of Rotenone, and include the following families with the number of species additions in parentheses: Gobiesocidae (4); Ophidiidae (4); Bythitidae (5); Gobiidae (13); Labrisomidae (12); and Chaenopsidae (5).
This case study found that the nondestructive nature of visual surveys
allows repeatable observations that can be conducted relatively quickly
and inexpensively, and that Rotenone sampling can reveal the myriad
of cryptic fishes that are also important yet understudied. Therefore,
a combination of visual and Rotenone methods gives a more complete and
accurate assessment of reef fish biodiversity.
Biodiversity of Cryptic Reef Fishes at Buck Island Reef National Park - Phase Two
Dr. Richard Spieler, NOVA Southeast University, National Coral Reef Institute
8000 N. Ocean Dr
Dania Beach, Fl 33004
This project provides research and technical assistance to the National Park Service. It addresses a need to inventory and assess the distribution of cryptic reef fish within Buck Island Reef National Monument. The methodology of the project: Dr. William Smith-Vaniz, USGS/BRD conducted an "Inventory and habitat associations of cryptic fishes of Buck Island Reef NM, U.S. Virgin Islands" which was concluded in September 2001. This study focused its data collecting on the near shore reef, sea grass and sand bottoms, out to the top of the forereef habitats - all within the original park boundaries. In December 2001 the park was expanded by Presidential Proclamation adding over 18035-acres of submerged lands greatly extending the variety of marine habitats in the park. In order to meet the goals of the NPS Vascular Plant and Vertebrate Inventory, the cryptic fish inventory and assessment must be conducted in the new park area especially along the forereef, coral haystack formations, extensive sea grass and sand beds, and the deep shelf edge to diver- safe limits. Ichthyocides were utilized in Smith-Vaniz study, which affected only fishes and will be considered a collection method along with nets. BUIS along with NOAA Biogeography Program and SFCN Inventory and Monitoring Program continues to conduct reef fish censuses using both visual and belt transect methods; these data will be used to validate and corroborate species lists where appropriate. Results from the Smith-Vaniz study must be reviewed and used to direct this expanded cryptic fish inventory and assessment in conjunction and coordination with NOAA Biogeography Program to ensure sample sites for fish inventories will complement ongoing habitat characterization work in expanded park boundaries.
Tortugas National Park
Inventory of Coastal Pelagic Fish Species of Dry Tortugas National Park
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Dr. Jerald S. Ault, University of Miami RSMAS
(A) The proposed work will fulfill a need to assess the distribution, abundance, and occurrence of non-reef, coastal pelagic fish assemblages identified within the Study Plan to the Inventory of Vascular Plants and Vertebrates in the S. Florida/Caribbean Network of the National Park Service” conducted by Sasso and Patterson (2000). While information on the status and distribution of coral reef fishes, invertebrates and benthic habitats is improving (Ault et al. 1998, 2002; Chiappone et al. 2001;Miller et al. 2001; Franklin et al. 2003), the distribution of the coastal pelagic fish assemblages of DRTO is virtually unknown. This study will design and implement fish survey methodologies, which are conducive to the life history characteristics of the pelagic species under investigation. Current fish sampling techniques utilized at DRTO, i.e. fisheries independent monitoring (FIM - underwater visual census surveys) and fisheries dependent monitoring (FDM- creel census, logbook surveys), do not assess these open-water, fast swimming species that are generally not associated with coral reefs. Principal species considered for investigation include tunas, king and Spanish mackerel, Elasmobranchs (sharks, rays,
sawfish), cobia, dolphin , and ballyhoo. Offshore recreational charterboat/guide fishermen, who are not normally interviewed by the Park's daily creel census intercept surveys at Garden Key boat dock/sally port, also target these species.
The data collected will be used to:
(1) Complete the baseline inventory of the fishes of DRTO;
(2) Provide important fishery habitat-use information for non-reef, benthic to open-water areas of the park; and,
(3) Provide information to help evaluate the effectiveness of the Park's recently authorized Research Natural Area (RNA) marine protection zone. For example, prior to the implementation of the Park's General Management Plan/RNA no take fishing zone, more information needs to be gathered and analyzed to provide before and after baseline conditions of these little known fish assemblages of DRTO.
(B) This project generally will assist in the completion of the South Florida / Caribbean Network's Study Plan to the Inventory of Vascular Plants and Vertebrates in the S. Florida/Caribbean Network of the National Park Service conducted by Sasso and Patterson (2000). That plan provided research and technical assistance to the National Park Service to fill in gaps of knowledge for species groups previously determined to be poorly known. Specifically, it addresses a need to document the virtually unknown pelagic fish assemblages within Dry Tortugas National Park.
(C) The methodology of the project: These data will be collected using a variety of bluewater, FIM sampling techniques including but not limited to, long-lines, drum lines and diver visual surveys. Supplemental data may be obtained from scientist-designed hook and line resource assessment surveys. Long line and drum line surveys will be conducted at a minimum, bimonthly or seasonally/monthly: Spring (Mar-Apr-May); summer (Jun-Jul_Aug), and Fall (Sep- Oct-Nov) over four predetermined, benthic/bare-bottom/open-water habitat/sites adjacent to
seagrass/reef areas of DRTO. At a minimum, for each species observed, information on numbers, sizes, and catch locations will be compiled. Supplemental biological information may be obtained on selected species when warranted, and approved by the NPS. Nets/lines will need to be attended during/between sets. Photographic vouchers will be collected.
Islands National Park
Inventory of Fishes in Inland Fresh and Brackish- Water Habitats of Virgin Islands National Park
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The goal of the NPS Inventory of Fishes in Inland Fresh and Brackish-Water Habitats is to document at least 90% of the species occurring within Virgin Islands National Park. The sampling methods used were a combination of passive and active techniques: minnow trapping, gill netting, snorkeling, seining, angling, visual sampling, and cast netting. Fish were sampled during the dry season and the beginning and end of wet season. The most abundant aquatic habitats were saline coastal ponds. Inland ponds were the deepest aquatic habitats on the island while gut pools and constructed ponds were the rarest freshwater habitats. The highest species richness of fishes was found in coastal ponds, particularly if they were connected to the sea by an inlet or had low berms. The majority of inland species were small-sized or juveniles of larger species such as tarpon, white mullet, or the common snook. A total of 35 species were identified in this inventory, with five additional taxa which had sight records (not captured) but could not be positively identified to a specific species. Thirty-three species used coastal ponds, four were found in gut pools, and six in inland ponds. These collections provided the first island records for several fishes, including the mangrove rivulus (Rivulus marmoratus), swordspine snook (Centropomus ensiferus), fat sleeper (Dormitator maculatus), emerald goby (Erotelis smaragdus), and sirajo goby (Sicydium plumieri).
Dr. William F. Loftus USGS Florida Integrated Science Center-Center for Water and Restoration Studies
- Inventory the inland fishes of VIIS to provide geo-referenced information about fish species composition, richness, and distribution in aquatic habitats on the island of St. John.
- Measure physical characteristics of inland aquatic habitats.
- Compare the species composition of the inland ichthyofauna of
St. John with sites elsewhere in the Virgin Islands and the Caribbean.
Habitats: All inland habitats were fairly shallow. Inland ponds, particularly those constructed by man, were the deepest aquatic habitats on the island, but even these were less than two to three meters deep. Freshwater habitats were rare on St. John , mainly represented by gut pools and constructed ponds. High salinities and lack of access combined to exclude fishes from habitats. The highest species richness of fishes was found in ponds that were mesohaline to slightly hypersaline, particularly if they were connected to the sea by an inlet or had low berms. The presence of red-mangrove stands may be used to indicate the presence of fishes if the site is not permanently isolated.
I asked several questions about habitat characteristics on St. John regarding the potential for those ponds to contain fishes. These factors should also apply to other islands in this area of the eastern Caribbean . Can hypersaline ponds have stands of red mangrove? - not usually, but in the few cases that did (CP09W, CP-13E, CP-14-E, CP-18-E), those ponds were only moderately or episodically hypersaline. Do all isolated ponds become hypersaline? Most isolated coastal ponds do, with exceptions like CP-12-W and CP-11-W, which received most of their water from freshwater runoff. Are all isolated ponds fishless? Most were, but it depends on the degree of isolation. Perennially dry guts were fishless, coastal ponds with low berms might have fish, but those with high berms did not, and inland ponds usually had fish only if they had been introduced.
Fishes: I identified a total of 35 species (including the echeneid) in this inventory, with five additional taxa for which I had sight records but could not positively identify to species. The presence of 22 families showed the lack of dominance by any single family in inland waters. Thirty-three species used coastal ponds, four were found in gut pools, and six in inland ponds. Coastal ponds shared two and one species with gut and inland ponds, respectively. Gut pools and inland ponds shared only one species, the mountain mullet. Twenty-four species were found within the boundaries of VIIS, but the remaining 11 from extra-park waters should be considered as Hypothetical.
These collections provided the first island records for several fishes, including the mangrove rivulus (Rivulus marmoratus), swordspine snook (Centropomus ensiferus), fat sleeper (Dormitator maculatus), emerald goby (Erotelis smaragdus), and sirajo goby (Sicydium plumieri). Most species belonged to marine-derived families, with the exception of the tilapiine cichlid and the rivulid killifish. The majority of inland species were small-sized species or juveniles of larger species such as tarpon, white mullet, or common snook. A number of species were confined to one habitat. For example, the sirajo goby occurred only in a few pools in Fish Bay Gut, and most of the marine invaders occurred only in coastal ponds. As in Florida , mangrove rivulus was usually the only species of fish where it occurred. It is able to utilize microhabitats with conditions that are intolerable to other fishes, including crab burrows and hypoxic mangrove waters with high hydrogen sulfide levels (Davis et al. 1990). In addition, one of the mangrove rivulus specimens (CP-22-E) was the first record of a male from the eastern Caribbean (S. Taylor , pers. comm), an unusual find for this predominately hermaphroditic fish. The record of mountain mullet (Agonostomus monticola) from 47-49 PSU water in Caneel Bay Plantation (IP-01-W(2)) is the highest salinity record for this species of which I am aware. It was also unusual to find the two snapper species, tilapia, and white mullet thriving in such hypersaline water there.
Mountain mullet, spinycheek sleeper, and American eel were the most widespread species in freshwater and oligohaline habitats on St. John . Mangrove rivulus, yellowfin mojarra, and tarpon were widespread in mangrove habitats. In higher salinity waters, yellowfin mojarra, white mullet, and the two snappers were common. The yellowfin mojarra appeared to recruit into inland waters in autumn, based on size frequencies. Large numbers of small white mullet were also collected in December. Mountain mullet recruited into the gut at times of heavy rains that connected the gut to the sea. With the exception of the tropical peripheral-freshwater species (three species), most fishes appeared to utilize the inland waters of St. John as nursery areas.
Several authors have noted the paucity of freshwater fishes on islands of the eastern Caribbean , including Puerto Rico , the Virgin Islands , and the Lesser Antilles . Only five species have been recorded for the Lesser Antilles (Lee et al. 1983), including the mangrove rivulus, a marine invader in a secondary freshwater family. There is a reduction in freshwater species from west to east in the Greater Antilles , with Cuba being richer in species (Vergara 1992) than Hispaniola , which in turn is much richer than Puerto Rico (Miller 1982). In fact, the only native freshwater species recorded from Puerto Rico (Poecilia vivipara) is a dubious record (Erdman 1972, Miller 1982). Puerto Rico has the same inland species that I recorded from St. John , and many more (Erdman 1972) because of its size and habitat diversity. However, like St. John , its hypersaline salt ponds are normally fishless. This is an example of vicariance biogeography in that hypersaline-tolerant species of pupfishes (Cyprinodon spp), which inhabit those habitats farther west on the islands and mainland, have not been able to reach beyond Hispaniola (Miller 1982, Lee et al. 1983). St. Croix , south of St. John , also has all of the species I recorded from St. John , but has additional tropical peripheral-freshwater species such as the opossum pipefish (Microphis brachyurus), the river goby (Awaous banana), and the bigmouth sleeper (Gobiomorus dormitor) (Clavijo et al. 1980, Seaman 1989). It is possible that some of those may be taken on St. John with further sampling in the guts under wetter conditions, but the fact is that St. Croix has more potential habitat for those species. In addition, St. Croix also has more records for marine invaders in mangrove habitats than St. John (Clavijo et al. 1980), again a case of a larger island with more available habitat. The inland fish inventory of St. John produced the richness and species composition one would expect to find on an island of its size, habitat availability, and geographic position.