South African Institute For Aquatic Biodiversity

Grahamstown, South Africa

South African Institute For Aquatic Biodiversity

Grahamstown, South Africa

The South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity , is involved in research, education and in applications of its knowledge and research to African fish fauna, for either economic or conservation benefit. The institute was formerly named the JLB Smith Institute of Ichthyology, in honour of Professor James Leonard Brierley Smith, who named and described the living coelacanth Latimeria chalumnae.Situated in Grahamstown, South Africa, SAIAB houses the largest fish collection in Africa, which from 2007 is housed in a specially built facility. The collection of over 880,000 items is accessible through a computerised database, and includes specimens of the unique Coelacanth.The SAIAB library houses the largest collection of fish-related publications in the southern hemisphere, supported by a computerised database which is also distributed on compact disc. SAIAB's digital image collection is accessible from its Web site. Wikipedia.

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Hussey N.E.,University of Windsor | Kessel S.T.,Technical University of Denmark | Aarestrup K.,Technical University of Denmark | Cooke S.J.,Carleton University | And 8 more authors.
Science | Year: 2015

The distribution and interactions of aquatic organisms across space and time structure our marine, freshwater, and estuarine ecosystems. Over the past decade, technological advances in telemetry have transformed our ability to observe aquatic animal behavior and movement. These advances are now providing unprecedented ecological insights by connecting animal movements with measures of their physiology and environment. These developments are revolutionizing the scope and scale of questions that can be asked about the causes and consequences of movement and are redefining how we view and manage individuals, populations, and entire ecosystems. The next advance in aquatic telemetry will be the development of a global collaborative effort to facilitate infrastructure and data sharing and management over scales not previously possible. Copyright 2015 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.


Whitfield A.K.,South African Institute For Aquatic Biodiversity | Panfili J.,IRD Montpellier | Durand J.-D.,Montpellier University
Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries | Year: 2012

This study reviews published information on Mugil cephalus from around the world, with recent genetic studies indicating that the flathead mullet may indeed be a species complex. Disciplines that are covered range from the taxonomy, genetics and systematics, through a variety of biological and ecological attributes, to biomarker and fisheries studies. The eurytopic nature of M. cephalus is emphasized, with the migratory life history covering a succession of very different aquatic environments (e. g. rivers, estuaries, coastal lakes/lagoons, marine littoral, open ocean), each of which is occupied for varying lengths of time, depending on the population characteristics within a region and the life-history stage of the species. Interpretation of these movements over time has been greatly enhanced by the use of otolith micro-chemistry which has enabled scientists to map out the different habitats occupied by individual fish at the different life stages. The range of physico-chemical attributes within these environments necessitates a wide tolerance to differing conditions, especially with regard to salinity, turbidity, dissolved oxygen and temperature, all of which are discussed in this review. The importance of M. cephalus to the ecological functioning of coastal systems is emphasized, as well as the pivotal role that this species fulfills in fisheries in some parts of the world. The parasites range from internal trematode and cestode infestations, to external branchyuran and copepod parasites, which use M. cephalus as either an intermediate or final host. The value of the flathead mullet as a biomarker for the monitoring of the health of coastal habitats is discussed, as well as its potential as an indicator or sentinel species for certain ecosystems. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.


Whitfield A.K.,South African Institute For Aquatic Biodiversity | Becker A.,South African Institute For Aquatic Biodiversity | Becker A.,University of New South Wales
Marine Pollution Bulletin | Year: 2014

A considerable amount of research has been conducted on the impacts of recreational boating activities on fishes but little or no synthesis of the information has been undertaken. This review shows that motor boats impact on the biology and ecology of fishes but the effects vary according to the species and even particular size classes. Direct hits on fishes by propellers are an obvious impact but this aspect has been poorly documented. Alterations in the wave climate and water turbidity may also influence fishes and their habitats, especially submerged and emergent plant beds. Sound generated by boat motors can also influence the communication and behaviour of certain species. Pollution arising from fuel spillages, exhaust emissions and antifouling paints all have detrimental effects on fishes. Finally, the use of recreational boats as vectors of aquatic invasive organisms is very real and has created major problems to the ecology of aquatic systems. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.


Tweddle D.,South African Institute For Aquatic Biodiversity
Aquatic Ecosystem Health and Management | Year: 2010

The Zambezi River has a catchment area of 1.32 million km2, including parts of eight countries. Three divisions of the river are recognised: the Upper Zambezi separated from the Middle Zambezi by Victoria Falls, and the Lower Zambezi below Cahora Bassa gorge. The Okavango River is also linked to the Upper Zambezi system in wet years in an area of complex geomorphological history. Habitats include forested headwater streams, extensive floodplains, deep gorges, two large man-made lakes and an extensive delta. On floodplains, subsistence fisheries exploit the natural seasonal cycles, while the man-made lakes have commercial-scale fisheries for introduced kapenta, Limnothrissa miodon. Aquaculture is on a small scale, though with larger commercial cage culture enterprises on Lake Kariba. This paper summarises current knowledge on the fish faunas and their origins, the status of the different fisheries and their management, and the conservation status of the river's resources. © 2010 AEHMS.


Whitfield A.K.,South African Institute For Aquatic Biodiversity
Journal of Fish Biology | Year: 2016

Estuaries are well known for their role as nutrient and detrital sinks that stimulate high levels of both primary and secondary production which, in turn, support a large biomass of fishes per unit area. This study reviews available information on coastal fish biomasses (g m−2 wet mass) and productivity (g m−2 wet mass year−1) in order to place South African data on these topics into a global perspective. Using biogeographic fish productivity estimates, together with estuarine water area, the approximate annual teleost production in South African estuaries was calculated at 585, 1706 and 13 904 t in the cool temperate, warm temperate and subtropical regions, respectively. Total annual fish production in estuaries on the subcontinent is conservatively estimated at 16 195 t, but this figure is likely to fluctuate widely, depending on recruitment success and annual environmental conditions pertaining to these systems. Approximately 2000 t of fish are estimated to be harvested by fishing activities in South African estuaries each year, which represents c. 12% of annual fish production. Although this figure may appear sustainable, the reality is that there are a few heavily targeted estuary-associated marine species at the top of the food chain that are being overexploited by both anglers and subsistence fishermen. Natural mortalities due to piscivorous fish and bird predation has been estimated at c. 3% of total fish biomass per month in the East Kleinemonde Estuary, but this figure will vary considerably depending on bird abundance and foraging patterns along the coast. In contrast to catches made by the fishermen, piscivorous fishes and birds are targeting mainly juvenile marine fish and small estuarine resident species that are very abundant and generally low down in the food web. © 2016 The Fisheries Society of the British Isles


Elliott M.,University of Hull | Whitfield A.K.,South African Institute For Aquatic Biodiversity
Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science | Year: 2011

For many years, estuarine science has been the 'poor relation' in aquatic research - freshwater scientists ignored estuaries as they tended to get confused by salt and tides, and marine scientists were more preoccupied by large open systems. Estuaries were merely regarded by each group as either river mouths or sea inlets respectively. For the past four decades, however, estuaries (and other transitional waters) have been regarded as being ecosystems in their own right. Although often not termed as such, this has led to paradigms being generated to summarise estuarine structure and functioning and which relate to both the natural science and management of these systems. This paper defines, details and affirms these paradigms that can be grouped into those covering firstly the science (definitions, scales, linkages, productivity, tolerances and variability) and secondly the management (pressures, valuation, health and services) of estuaries. The more 'science' orientated paradigms incorporate the development and types of ecotones, the nature of stressed and variable systems (with specific reference to resilience and redundancy), the relationship between generalists and specialists produced by environmental tolerance, the relevance of scale in relation to functioning and connectivity, the sources of production and degree of productivity, the biodiversity-ecosystem functioning and the stress-subsidy debates. The more 'management' targeted paradigms include the development and effects of exogenic unmanaged pressures and endogenic managed pressures, the perception of health and the ability to manage estuaries (related to internal and external influences), and the influence of all of these on the production of ecosystem services and societal benefits. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.


Whitfield A.K.,South African Institute For Aquatic Biodiversity
Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries | Year: 2016

Each year millions of larval and 0+ juvenile fishes are recruited into estuarine fish populations around the world. For several decades the roles of littoral aquatic and emergent macrophyte habitats as nursery areas for many of these species have been studied and debated at length. This review attempts to collate the published literature and provide a synopsis of the varying, and sometimes conflicting, views on this topic. A large number of studies have shown that a range of species and an abundance of juvenile fishes are associated with littoral macrophytes in estuaries, some of which are found almost exclusively within particular plant habitats. Other studies have shown the movement of certain juvenile fishes from one type of littoral plant habitat to another as they grow and develop new feeding strategies and dietary requirements. Overall, it would appear that seagrass beds and mangrove forests are particularly favoured by fishes as nursery areas in both estuaries and the nearshore marine environment, and that the loss of these habitats leads to a decline in juvenile fish diversity and abundance. Salt marshes and reed beds generally have a lower diversity of fishes than seagrass and mangrove habitats, possibly due to the more temperate location of salt marshes and the dense structure of some reed beds. Stable isotope studies in particular are providing increasing evidence that carbon assimilated by juvenile fishes in mangrove, marsh and reed habitats is not primarily derived from these macrophytes but comprises a mixture of these sources and a diverse range of macro- and microalgae, particularly epiphytic, epipsammic, epipelic and epilithic diatoms and algae found in these areas. The closest trophic link between the macrophyte food chain and associated fishes occurs in seagrass habitats where a significant portion of the overall macrophyte leaf biomass often consists of epiphytic algae and diatoms. Structurally, mangrove forests, salt marshes and reed beds provide more substantial and complex habitats for juvenile fish refuge, but some of these habitats are constrained with regard to nursery provision by being fully exposed at low tide. Under such circumstances the small fish are sometimes forced into creeks and channels where larger piscivorous fishes are often present. Overall, in terms of a broad ranking of the four habitats as potential fish nursery areas, seagrass meadows are ranked first, followed by mangrove forests, salt marshes and then reed beds. This ranking does not imply that the lower ranked habitats are unimportant, since these plants perform a myriad of ecosystem services that are not related to the provision of fish nursery areas, e.g. bank stabilization. It is also emphasized that the protection of specific plant species should not be encouraged because it is important to have an ecosystem approach to conservation so that the diversity of habitats and their connectivity for fishes is maintained. © 2016 Springer International Publishing Switzerland


Connell A.D.,South African Institute For Aquatic Biodiversity
African Journal of Marine Science | Year: 2010

Pelagic eggs of marine fish were collected weekly from shelf waters at Park Rynie on the KwaZulu-Natal south coast from 1987 to 2007 to investigate seasonal and annual patterns in the abundance of sardine Sardinops sagax eggs. After a sudden appearance in June each year, sardine eggs were found persistently throughout the winter-spring period before disappearing in early summer. From changes in the cross-shelf distribution of eggs, it is inferred that sardine shoals are close inshore in June, as they arrive in KwaZulu-Natal waters from the south, then the shoals disperse offshore and thereafter return inshore before their return migration southward in early summer. The period 2001-2007 yielded significantly fewer eggs than the previous 14 years of the study. © NISC (Pty) Ltd.


Fennessy S.T.,Oceanographic Research Institute | Roberts M.J.,Branch Oceans and Coasts | Paterson A.W.,South African Institute For Aquatic Biodiversity
African Journal of Marine Science | Year: 2016

This introductory paper lays the basis for this supplementary issue by briefly presenting the state of knowledge on the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Bight at the start of this multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional, ship-based research project that ran from 2009 to 2013. The rationale and aims of the project are also described. The project was a major component of the South African Department of Science and Technology’s African Coelacanth Ecosystem Programme (ACEP), which has been prominent in supporting research on the east coast of South Africa and the wider South-West Indian Ocean. Pivotal to this was the RS Algoa, which was made available for two 30-day surveys (winter and summer) in the KZN Bight by the Department of Environmental Affairs. Although some aspects of the bight ecology are known, much of the research is dated and fragmented, and required refreshing and consolidation in order to produce a platform upon which the understanding of the region’s ecosystem functioning could be established. Much of the oceanographic knowledge is also dated, with no dedicated surveys and significant measurements undertaken since 1989. The overarching theme of the KZN Bight project was to examine the relative importance of sources of nutrients to the central KZN coast and how these are taken up and recycled in the ecosystem, and to describe aspects of the benthic biodiversity, which is poorly described in much of this region. An ambitious project, its accessibility to a ship-based research platform and the diverse scientific skills of the participating scientists allowed considerable success, as reflected in the papers that follow. © 2016 NISC (Pty) Ltd.


Magellan K.,South African Institute For Aquatic Biodiversity | Swartz E.R.,South African Institute For Aquatic Biodiversity
Freshwater Biology | Year: 2013

1. The ability to achieve optimal camouflage varies between microhabitats in heterogeneous environments, potentially restricting individuals to a single habitat or imposing a compromise on crypsis to match several habitats. However, animals may exhibit morphological and behavioural attributes that enhance crypsis in different habitats. 2. We used an undescribed fish species, Galaxias'nebula', to investigate two objectives. First, we examined two potential methods of enhancing crypsis: change in colour pattern and selection of a suitable background. Second, we characterised the colour pattern of this unstudied fish and assessed its capacity for crypsis. 3. No background selection was apparent but the area of dark pigment expressed varied between backgrounds, which may negate the requirement to be choosy about habitats. The capacity to change colour and selection of a background that maximises crypsis are most likely separate, non-mutually exclusive strategies. 4. Galaxias'nebula' exhibits polymorphic, non-interchangeable colour patterns that have elements of both background pattern matching and disruptive colouration. This, coupled with habitat characteristics, suggests a combination of generalist and specialist strategies of habitat use. The fish's camouflage strategy and air-breathing ability may be key to survival under increasing pressure from habitat degradation and invasive predators. © 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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