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Coral Reefs

pp 1–11 | Cite as

Deep reef fishes in the world’s epicenter of marine biodiversity

  • Hudson T. PinheiroEmail author
  • Bart Shepherd
  • Cristina Castillo
  • Rene A. Abesamis
  • Joshua M. Copus
  • Richard L. Pyle
  • Brian D. Greene
  • Richard R. Coleman
  • Robert K. Whitton
  • Emma Thillainath
  • Abner A. Bucol
  • Matthew Birt
  • Dave Catania
  • Mauritius V. Bell
  • Luiz A. Rocha
Report

Abstract

The Philippines is often highlighted as the global epicenter of marine biodiversity, yet surveys of reef-associated fishes in this region rarely extend beyond shallow habitats. Here, we improve the understanding of fish species diversity and distribution patterns in the Philippines by analyzing data from mesophotic coral ecosystems (MCEs; 30–150 m depth) obtained via mixed-gas rebreather diving and baited remote underwater video surveys. A total of 277 fish species from 50 families was documented, which includes thirteen newly discovered and undescribed species. There were 27 new records for the Philippines and 110 depth range extensions, indicating that many reef fishes have a broader geographic distribution and greater depth limits than previously reported. High taxonomic beta-diversity, mainly associated with family and genus turnover with depth, and significant effects of traits such as species body size, mobility and geographic range with maximum recorded depth, were observed. These results suggest that MCEs are characterized by unique assemblages with distinct ecological and biogeographic traits. A high proportion (60.5%) of the fish species are targeted by fishing, suggesting that Philippine MCEs are as vulnerable to overfishing as shallow reefs. Our findings support calls to expand conservation efforts beyond shallow reefs and draw attention to the need to explicitly include deep reefs in marine protected areas to help preserve the unique biodiversity of MCEs in the Philippines.

Keywords

Mesophotic coral ecosystems Twilight zone Checklist Coral triangle Philippines Conservation 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This work was funded by the generous support of donors who endorsed the California Academy of Sciences’ Hope for Reefs Initiative, and through grants from the National Science Foundation to T. Gosliner, R. Mooi, G. Williams and L.A. Rocha (DEB 12576304), and Brian W. Bowen (OCE-15-58852), and a grant from the Seaver Institute to Brian W. Bowen and Richard L. Pyle. We also thank the Australian Research Council Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University, the Oceans Institute and School of Biological Sciences at University of Western Australia, G.R. Russ, A.C. Alcala and T. Langlois for support. We are grateful to many colleagues who helped in the field and with discussions: M. Bell, E. Jessup, M. Lane, N. Nazarian, T. Phelps, B. Bowen, C. Ka‘apu-Lyons, S. Longo. Hollis, Poseidon and Anilao Beach Club provided gear and logistical support. HTP thanks CNPq for his PhD fellowship (Ciência sem Fronteiras; GDE 202475/2011-5). Philippines research and collecting permits (GP-0072-13, GP-0077-14, and GP-0085-15) were provided by the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources. Additional permits were provided by Apo Island Protected Area Management Board. This is a collaborative research initiative with key Philippine partners including: former Secretary of Agriculture P. J. Alcala; former Philippine Consul General M. Paynor and the Consular staff in San Francisco; former BFAR Director A. G. Perez; BFAR colleagues, especially A. Vitug and L. Labe; and NFRDI colleagues especially, Acting Director D. Bayate and N. Romena.

Supplementary material

338_2019_1825_MOESM1_ESM.docx (15 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 15 kb)
338_2019_1825_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (126 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (PDF 125 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.California Academy of SciencesSan FranciscoUSA
  2. 2.Silliman University–Angelo King Center for Research and Environmental ManagementDumaguetePhilippines
  3. 3.Hawai’i Institute of Marine BiologyKaneoheUSA
  4. 4.Department of BiologyUniversity of Hawai‘i at MānoaHonoluluUSA
  5. 5.Bernice P. Bishop MuseumHonoluluUSA
  6. 6.The UWA Oceans Institute and School of Biological SciencesThe University of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia
  7. 7.Australian Institute of Marine ScienceCrawleyAustralia

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