Sand-assocaiated fish composition between the sandy patchs at the back reef and coral reef.

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Coral reef research in the past decade have focused on pelagic and bentho-pelagic fishes and have neglected sand-associated fishes. It has been observed that sandy patches occur sporadically in both coral reefs and back reefs. These patches play an important role in shaping the fish community in these respective zones. However, there is considerable differences in habitat and environmental factors between the aforementioned zones. Hence, we hypothesize that the sand-associated fish community would differ between these zones. The current study was conducted from 19th June 2010 to 20th June 2010 at the Southeastern bay of Pulau Gaya, Sabah, Malaysia (Fig. 1). Sandy patches of 0.5 m by 0.5 m were selected using a random stratification design and were observed for five minute for sand-associated fishes. A total of 20 sandy patches were observed, 10 in the back reef zone and 10 in the coral reef zone. Seven fish families were found to be associated to sandy patches. However, there appears to be no significant difference between the sand-associated fish at the back reef and the coral reef (ANOSIM, p=0.195)(Fig. 3). This suggests that the fish community associated to sand patches is highly specific and is able to effectively occupy patches ranging from the back reef to the coral reef despite the varying biotic and abiotic conditions.

Fig 1. Site of study: Southeastern coast of Pulau Gaya, Sabah, Malaysia.
Fig 2. Cluster dendrograme showing no clustering of the sand associated fish in the back reef (B) and the coral reef (C).
Fig 3. ANOSIM shows no significant differnces between sand associated fish in the back reef (B) and the coral reef (C).