Project Description: Landscape Ecology of Fishes on Southern Carmel Bay’s Deep Wall and Reefs

Summary

The primary goal of this project is to broaden the on-going Deepwater Characterization of the MBNMS (a long-term collaboration between the MBNMS and CSUMB dedicated to address a requirement in the MBNMS Management Plan) to include the “lost reefs” between 20 – 40 m water depth, an understudied zone between standard SCUBA-based surveys (e.g., PISCO and Reef Check CA) and deeper ROV/camera sled/submersible surveys (e.g, IfAME, MLML, MBARI). Specifically, we will couple diver-held stereo video (DOV) with traditional underwater visual census (UVC) techniques to sample fishes and selected invertebrates using shore-based SCUBA operations. The coupled approaches will yield quantifiable data on abundance, density and species composition, while also providing very accurate size estimates, precise georeferencing of individual organisms, and ultimately habitat suitability models for key species. Further, the video records will contribute to the permanent imagery archive for use in answering long-term questions and for public outreach. Preliminary data have been collected at fixed transects located at both north and south Monastery Beach, with additional planned sites off Point Lobos and down onto the Big Sur coastline. All survey locations, where possible, will be sited over existing topographic maps of the seafloor.

Student Involvement

All SCUBA dives are conducted by trained research divers from CSU Monterey Bay’s Research Diving Program. At total of 4 undergraduates and two graduate students have participated directly in the project to-date. A new thesis student in the CSUMB/MLML program will begin work on the project in Fall 2017.

Broader Significance

Analyses of project data will include changes in abundance, diversity, and species composition. Other on-going efforts include fine-scale analyses of patterns in fish-habitat and spatial modeling resulting from the combination of observational data and the high-resolution topographic maps produced by the California State Mapping Project.

IfAME Principal Investigator

Dr. James Lindholm

Financial Support

SEP.org, US Department of Education, Private Donations to the IfAME and Rote Programs

Field Support

CSUMB Research Diving Program

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