Current velocity and catch efficiency in sampling settlement-stage larvae of coral-reef fishes


Anderson, Todd W., Claudine T. Bartels, Mark A. Hixon, Erich Bartels, Mark H. Carr, and Jonathan M. Shenker
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Light traps and channel nets are fixed-position devices that involve active and passive sampling, respectively, in the collection of settlement-stage larvae of coral-reef fishes. We compared the abundance, taxonomic composition, and size of such larvae caught by each device deployed simultaneously near two sites that differed substantially in current velocity. Light traps were more selective taxonomically, and the two sampling devices differed significantly in the abundance but not size of taxa caught. Most importantly, light traps and channel nets differed greatly in their catch efficiency between sites: light traps were ineffective in collecting larvae at the relatively high-current site, and channel nets were less efficient in collecting larvae at the low-current site. Use of only one of these sampling methods would clearly result in biased and inaccurate estimates of the spatial variation in larval abundance among locations that differ in current velocity. When selecting a larval sampling device, one must consider not only how well a particular taxon may be represented, but also the environmental conditions under which the device will be deployed.