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Abstract

Objectives were to identify and compare fish species richness, functional feeding group richness and diversity, and delineate distributions of fishes at rocky and sandy beach habitats at St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands. Visual observations using snorkel and mask were made at 3-m intervals seaward from shore during daylight hours. A total of 69 taxa (67 species) representing 33 families of fishes were observed. Total (53) and average fish species richness (32.7) at rocky beach habitats were greater than those (total=43; average=24.3) at sandy beach habitats. Twelve functional feeding groups were identified (diurnal planktivores, excavators/eroders, macroalgae browsers, macrocarnivores, mobile benthic scrapers, general omnivores, strict piscivores, sand invertivores, scrapers, coral/colonial sessile insectivores, territorial algae/detritus, and turf grazers. Total numbers of functional feeding groups (range= 10-12) and species (range= 29-46) per functional feeding groups at distances greater than 1 m from shore at rocky beach habitats were consistently higher than those (functional feeding group range= 8-10; species per functional feeding group = 19-30) at sandy beach habitats. Information on the number and composition of functional feeding groups in rocky and sandy beach habitats from this study can serve as a baseline for future investigations as changes in Caribbean habitats continue to occur.

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