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Reef fish communities from shallow to lower mesophotic coral ecosystems in the heart of the Coral Triangle, Hudson Pinheiro [et al.]

Reef fish communities from shallow to lower mesophotic coral ecosystems in the heart of the Coral Triangle, Hudson Pinheiro [et al.]

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Taking a deeper look: Quantifying the

differences in fish assemblages between

shallow and mesophotic temperate rocky


Joel Williams

∗† 1

, Alan Jordan 1 , David Harasti 1 , Peter Davies 2 , Neville

Barrett 3


New South Wales Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) – Port Stephens Fisheries Institute,

Taylors Beach, New South Wales, 2316, Australia


New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage (NSW OEH) – PO Box A290, Sydney South,

NSW, 1232, Australia


Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania (IMAS) – 20 Castray Esplanade,

Battery Point, Tasmania, 7004, Australia

The spatial distribution of a species assemblage is often determined by habitat and climate.

In the marine environment, depth can become an important factor as degrading light leads to

changes in the biological habitat structure. To date, much of the focus of ecological fish research has been based on reefs in less than 40 m. Therefore, it is important that we attempt

to understand the ecological role of mesophotic reefs. In this study we deployed baited remote

underwater stereo video systems (stereo-BRUVS) on temperate reefs in two depth categories:

shallow (20-40m) and mesophotic (80-120m), off Port Stephens, Australia. Sites were selected

using data collected by multi-beam echo sounder (MBES) to ensure stereo-BRUVS were deployed

on reef. MBES also provided rugosity, slope and relief data for each stereo-BRUVS deployment.

The aims of this study are to 1) quantify the similarities/dissimilarities in the fish assemblages

between shallow and mesophotic reefs, and 2) model the effects of environmental conditions

and habitat structure on the spatial distribution of fishery targeted species. Multivariate analysis indicates that there are significant differences in the fish assemblages between shallow and

mesophotic reefs, primary driven by Ophthalmolepis lineolatus and Notolabrus gymnogenis only

occurring on shallow reefs and schooling species of fish that were unique to each depth category;

Atypichthys strigatus on shallow reefs and Centroberyx affinis on mesophotic reefs. While shallow reefs had a greater species richness and abundance of fish when compared to mesophotic

reefs, mesophotic reefs hosted the same species richness of fishery targeted species. Chrysophrys

auratus and Nemodactylus douglassii are two highly targeted species in this region. While C.

auratus was numerically more abundant on shallow reefs, mesophotic reefs provided habitat

for larger fish. In comparison, N. douglassii were evenly distributed across all sites sampled.

Generalized linear models revealed that depth and habitat type provided the most parsimonious

model for predicting the distribution of C. auratus, while habitat type alone best predicted the

distribution of N. douglassii. These results demonstrate the importance of mesophotic reefs to

fishery targeted species and therefore have implications for informing the management of these


Corresponding author: joel.williams@dpi.nsw.gov.au


fishery resources on shelf rocky reefs.


E4/ Biology and Evolution of

deep-sea fishes


A different way of seeing colour using

multiple rod visual pigments in deep-sea


Fabio Cortesi ∗† 1,2 , Zuzana Musilov´a‡ 2,3 , Michael Matschiner 2,4 , Wayne

Davies 5 , Sara Stieb 1,2 , Fanny De Busserolles 1,6 , Martin Malmstrøm 4 ,

Ole Tørresen 4 , Jessica Mountford 5 , Reinhold Hanel 7 , Karen Carleton 8 ,

Kjetill Jakobsen 4 , Sissel Jentoft 4 , Justin Marshall 1 , Walter Salzburger§



Queensland Brain Institute, The University of Queensland – The University of Queensland, Brisbane

4072, Australia


Zoological Institute, University of Basel – University of Basel, 4051 Basel, Switzerland


Department of Zoology, Charles University – Charles University, 12844 Prague, Czech Republic


Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis, Department of Biosciences, University of Oslo –

University of Oslo, 0316 Oslo, Norway


School of Biological Sciences, The University of Western Australia – The University of Western

Australia, Crawley, 6009, Australia


Red Sea Research Center, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology – King Abdullah

University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Thuwal, 23955-6900, Saudi Arabia


Institute of Fisheries Ecology, Federal Research Institute for Rural Areas, Forestry and Fisheries –

Federal Research Institute for Rural Areas, Forestry and Fisheries, 22767 Hamburg, Germany


Department of Biology, University of Maryland – University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742,

United States

Vertebrates see colour during the day using cone visual pigments (opsins) that are sensitive

to different wavelengths of light. During dim-light conditions, such as at night or in the deep-sea,

however, vertebrates are thought to be colour blind relying on a single rod opsin (rhodopsin) for

vision. Using a large comparative approach comprising 100 teleost genomes and transcriptomes

from 35 species, we show that the evolutionary history of opsin genes strongly correlates with

the light environment fishes inhabit. In particular, while cone opsins thrived and their number

expanded in shallow water fishes, many deep-sea fishes have lost (parts of) their cone opsin

repertoires and thus, the ability to see colour as we know it. Surprisingly though, we found that

four deep-sea fish lineages contain more than three rod opsins within their genomes. Rod opsin

expansion occurred via independent gene duplication events and the repeated modification of all

but one key spectral tuning site known across vertebrates. At the extreme end of the spectrum,

within the Beryciformes, we found a species with a remarkable 38 rod opsins with peak spectral

sensitivities (448 nm – 512 nm lmax) that cover the range of bioluminescent light emissions at

depth (440 – 520 nm). Moreover, retinal transcriptomes including from two species belonging

to a second multi-rod lineage, revealed the use of three or more differently tuned rod opsins in


Corresponding author: fabio.cortesi@uqconnect.edu.au

Corresponding author: zuzana.musilova@natur.cuni.cz


Corresponding author: walter.salzburger@unibas.ch


these fishes. Hence, a similar solution seems to have evolved multiple times to enable colour

vision in the extremely light deprived environment of the deep-sea. Our results challenge the

status quo of vertebrate colour vision both in the deep-sea and in general, and highlight the

benefit of large comparative studies when investigating trait evolution.


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Reef fish communities from shallow to lower mesophotic coral ecosystems in the heart of the Coral Triangle, Hudson Pinheiro [et al.]

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