This paper describes the results of a field survey designed to test the prediction that the density of benthic juveniles of shallow-reef fishes is greater on wind-wave "exposed" sectors of a pair of isolated oceanic atolls (Kure, Pearl and Hermes) at the far northwestern end of the Hawaiian Islands, an archipelago in which east-northeasterly trade winds dominate onshore water flow and transport by surface currents. The densities of recruits (juveniles ???5 cm total length) were higher overall on windward versus leeward sectors of carbonate rock-rubble back reefs at both atolls, and the pattern was stronger for smaller (likely younger, more recently settled) recruits of four of the five most abundant species and the remainder pooled as an "Other" taxon. The windward-leeward disparity was four-fold greater at Pearl Hermes (the atoll with a three-fold longer perimeter) than at Kure. Resident predator biomass also was correlated with recruit densities, but habitat (benthic substratum) effects were generally weak. The distribution and abundance of recruits and juveniles of the primarily endemic reef fishes on shallow back reefs at these atolls appear partly influenced by relative rates of water flow over windward vs. leeward sectors of barrier reef and by the size, shape, and orientation of habitat parcels that filter out postlarval fishes with relatively weak swimming capabilities like labroids. Whole-reef geomorphology as well as fine-scale habitat heterogeneity and rugosity should be considered among the suite of many factors used to interpret observed spatial patterns of post-settlement juvenile fish distribution at atolls and perhaps some other tropical reefs. ?? The Author(s) 2009.
Additional publication details
Influences of wind-wave exposure on the distribution and density of recruit reef fishes at Kure and Pearl and Hermes Atolls, Northwestern Hawaiian Islands