Shore fishes of Navassa Island, West Indies: a case study on the need for rotenone sampling in reef fish biodiversity studies

Bruce B. Collette, Jeffrey T. Williams, Christine E. Thacker and Michael L. Smith

aqua, International Journal of Ichthyology, pp. 89-131, Volume 6, Issue 3 – February 2003


We occupied 38 fish stations at Navassa Island in April-May 1999: 22 rotenone collections, mostly by scuba diving; 4 night light/dip net stations; 5 hook and line, trolling and hand-lining stations; and 7 visual underwater surveys. Eight new cryptic species were collected with rotenone – five blennioids, two clingfishes, and a goby. Five have already been described and three are described in papers currently in press. New information is given on the behaviour and life colours of one of the recently described blennioids, Emblemaria vitta. We collected or recorded 224 species of fishes from 66 families, verifying most earlier records and adding another 160 species, making a current total of 237 species known from Navassa. Of the 224 species recorded, 102 (45.5%) were taken only with rotenone, and 56 others were collected using rotenone and other techniques. Thus a total of 158 species (70.5%) were collected using rotenone, supporting the need for this technique in obtaining a complete inventory. Most fishes found at Navassa are reef-associated species that are widely distributed in the Caribbean Sea. Navassa is relatively depauperate when compared with Bermuda (433 species of fishes) and four western Caribbean oceanic atolls (273 fishes). Navassa shares 140 fish species with Bermuda and 139 fish species with the western Caribbean atolls. Navassa, like Bermuda and the western Caribbean atolls, lacks families associated with the continental shelf such as toadfishes, searobins, and snooks. Navassa also lacks families associated with shallow seagrass beds and forage fishes such as herrings and anchovies. Navassa has similar numbers of gobioids (14 vs. 19 species in Bermuda), damselfishes (9 vs. 10), surgeonfishes (3), triggerfishes (5 vs. 6), squirrelfishes (7 vs. 8), and cardinalfishes (11 vs. 12); but fewer eels (14 vs. 32), jacks (7 vs. 17), grunts (3 vs. 7), wrasses (10 vs. 16), snappers (4 vs. 11), parrotfishes (9 vs. 13), and serranids (21 vs. 29); and more blennioids (24 vs. 11), plus clingfishes (6) and jawfishes (2), families that are absent from Bermuda.

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