Underappreciated benthos

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Science  06 May 2016:
Vol. 352, Issue 6286, pp. 669
DOI: 10.1126/science.352.6286.669-a

Coastal fishes, such as this toadfish, depend on rocky and soft benthic habitats for reproduction and survival.


The management and monitoring of animal populations is shifting away from a model that focuses purely on abundance, to one that considers the importance of components of the physical and biological environment to a species' persistence. Kritzer et al. develop such an ecosystem management-based approach to evaluate a system whose contribution to healthy fish populations is underappreciated. They show that benthic habitats on the east coast of the United States are essential for fish reproduction, with the most valuable benthic forms varying latitudinally. Their analysis showed that some soft sediment habitats were much more important than expected, a notable result given that these habitats have typically been considered expendable.

BioScience 10.1093/biosci/biw014 (2016).

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