Coral reef fish communities of natural habitats and man-made coastal structures in Bora-Bora (French Polynesia)

Emma Gairin, Lana Minier, Thomas Claverie, Charlotte R. Dromard, Tehani Maueau, Antoine Collin, Bruno Frédérich, Frédéric Bertucci, David Lecchini


Coastal habitats have long been recognised to be nurseries and growing grounds for many marine organisms. Worldwide, coastal hardening and urbanisation are leading to the removal of natural ecosystems. The tropical island of Bora-Bora in the South Pacific has undergone extensive coastal changes, with the construction of seawalls along more than half of its coastline since the 1950s. The daytime and night-time juvenile and adult fish communities were surveyed with multiple temporal replicates on a range of lagoon and coastal habitats on Bora-Bora. Over 47% of all fish on coastal habitats were juveniles. Mangroves, traditionally viewed as nurseries, had a high daytime and night-time abundance of juveniles, but less than 1% of the coastline of Bora-Bora consists of mangroves. The manmade seawalls, which are the most common type of coastal habitat on the island, were associated with lower juvenile densities during the day and promoted the presence of predators. The comparison of coastal and lagoon sites also highlighted contrasting life history strategies depending on coral reef fish species: although many favour coastal habitats as juveniles, others do not undergo ontogenetic shifts and thus other habitats must be considered when designing management plans to protect juvenile fish. Overall, our surveys show the importance of natural coastal zones in the lifecycle of numerous coral reef fish species in the lagoon of Bora-Bora and highlight the potential long-term impacts of coastal hardening on fish communities.


coastal habitats; coral reef; fishes; coastal management

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