Open Access

Community structure and biogeography of shore fishes in the Gulf of Aqaba, Red Sea

Helgoland Marine Research200255:90

Received: 2 April 2001

Accepted: 2 November 2001

Published: 24 January 2002


Shore fish community structure off the Jordanian Red Sea coast was determined on fringing coral reefs and in a seagrass-dominated bay at 6 m and 12 m depths. A total of 198 fish species belonging to 121 genera and 43 families was recorded. Labridae and Pomacentridae dominated the ichthyofauna in terms of species richness and Pomacentridae were most abundant. Neither diversity nor species richness was correlated to depth. The abundance of fishes was higher at the deep reef slope, due to schooling planktivorous fishes. At 12 m depth abundance of fishes at the seagrass-dominated site was higher than on the coral reefs. Multivariate analysis demonstrated a strong influence on the fish assemblages by depth and benthic habitat. Fish species richness was positively correlated with hard substrate cover and habitat diversity. Abundance of corallivores was positively linked with live hard coral cover. The assemblages of fishes were different on the shallow reef slope, deep reef slope and seagrass meadows. An analysis of the fish fauna showed that the Gulf of Aqaba harbours a higher species richness than previously reported. The comparison with fish communities on other reefs around the Arabian Peninsula and Indian Ocean supported the recognition of an Arabian subprovince within the Indian Ocean. The affinity of the Arabian Gulf ichthyofauna to the Red Sea is not clear.

Community structure Coral reef Red Sea Seagrass meadow Shore fishes