Publication Details

Griffiths, S. P., West, R. J., Davis, A. R. & Russell, K. G. (2004). Fish recolonization in temperate Australian rockpools: a quantitative experimental approach. Fishery Bulletin, 102 (4), 634-647.


Understanding recolonization processes of intertidal fish assemblages is integral for predicting the consequences of significant natural or anthropogenic impacts on the intertidal zone. Recolonization of experimentally defaunated intertidal rockpools by fishes at Bass Point, New South Wales (NSW), Australia, was assessed quantitatively by using one long-term and two short-term studies. Rockpools of similar size and position at four sites within the intertidal zone were repeatedly defaunated of their fish fauna after one week, one month, and three months during two short-term studies in spring and autumn (5 months each), and every six months for the long-term study (12 months). Fish assemblages were highly resilient to experimental perturbations— recolonizing to initial fish assemblage structure within 1−3 months. This recolonization was primarily due to subadults (30−40 mm TL) and adults (>40 mm TL) moving in from adjacent rockpools and presumably to abundant species competing for access to vacant habitat. The main recolonizers were those species found in highest numbers in initial samples, such as Bathygobius cocosensis, Enneapterygius rufopileus, and Girella elevata. Defaunation did not affect the size composition of fishes, except during autumn and winter when juveniles (<30 mm TL) recruited to rockpools. It appears that Bass Point rockpool fish assemblages are largely controlled by postrecruitment density-dependent mechanisms that indicate that recolonization may be driven by deterministic mechanisms.