Non-random habitat use by coral reef fish recruits in Mafia Island Marine Park, Tanzania

  • KC Garpe Department of Zoology, Stockholm University, 106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
  • MC Öhman Department of Zoology, Stockholm University, 106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
Keywords: disturbance, East Africa, habitat alteration, larval supply, selection, settlement, Western Indian Ocean


The habitat use by nearly 3 000 reef fish recruits, comprising 56 taxa, at seven sites in Mafia Island Marine Park, Tanzania, were examined. The study was carried out following the 1998 global coral bleaching event and all sites but one were dominated by dead coral and rubble. Mean recruit densities ranged between 0.1 m–2 and 0.7 m–2 among sites. Although live coral represented only 15% of the overall substrate composition, almost half of all observed recruits were found associated with this substrate. Pooled across all sites, 46% of the recruits used live coral cover in disproportion to availability. Principal component analyses were applied to explore microhabitat use by the 11 most common recruit taxa in comparison to availability. Among these taxa, 10 exhibited nonrandom microhabitat use and six associated with live coral in disproportion to availability. A comparison with the adult fish community revealed that adult abundances of four of the six coral selective recruit taxa were significantly correlated with live coral. The study demonstrated that reef fish recruits use microhabitats non-randomly and that a substantial proportion is selective towards live coral.

African Journal of Marine Science 2007, 29(2): 187–199

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1814-2338
print ISSN: 1814-232X