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Landscape context and nutrients modify the effects of coastal urbanisation.

Research paper by Nicholas A NA Yabsley, Ben L BL Gilby, Thomas A TA Schlacher, Christopher J CJ Henderson, Rod M RM Connolly, Paul S PS Maxwell, Andrew D AD Olds

Indexed on: 29 Mar '20Published on: 29 Mar '20Published in: Marine Environmental Research



Abstract

Estuaries are focal points for coastal cities worldwide, their habitats frequently transformed into engineered shorelines abutting waters with elevated nutrients in an urbanised landscape. Here we test for relationships between shoreline armouring and nutrients on the diversity and trophic composition of fish assemblages across 22 estuaries in eastern Australia. Urbanisation was associated with fish diversity and abundance, but there were differences in the effects of shoreline armouring and nutrient level on the trophic composition of fish assemblages. Fish diversity and the abundance of most trophic groups, particularly omnivores, zoobenthivores and detritivores, was greatest in highly urban estuaries. We show that estuarine fish assemblages are associated with urbanisation in more nuanced ways than simple habitat transformation would suggest, but this depends on the broader environmental context. Our findings have wider implications for estuarine conservation and restoration, emphasizing that ecological benefits of habitat measures may depend on both landscape attributes and water quality in urban settings. Copyright © 2020 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.