Dusk Transition in Sub-Tropical Reef Fish Communities off of North and South Carolina
Although dawn and dusk periods comprise a relatively small part of the day, their importance as key ecological transition periods has been recognized for some time. Previous marine investigations into this transition have focused on tropical locations and have mostly been qualitative in nature. This project focused on the dusk period in sub-tropical reef fish communities off the coasts of North and South Carolina. High-definition underwater video was collected in 2013 and 2014 at a variety of sites featuring natural live-bottom habitat. Independent samples (43 videos) were obtained on 17 sampling dates. Fishes were tallied by time relative to sunset (TRTS) in an effort to identify temporal abundance patterns and categorize taxa by temporal niche. Sufficient data were collected for statistical analysis of 27 taxa, representing 15 families. Analyses explored whether there was a relationship between time and abundance. Of the taxa analyzed, ten showed no temporal pattern during the dusk period, seven showed abundance peaks during dusk, and ten showed declines in abundance during dusk. Patterns were not always consistent within families. In particular, the Serranidae and Sparidae families featured a variety of patterns. Uncommon species and ephemeral behavioral events were also noted and described.