Demersal fish communities of the shelf and slope of South Georgia and Shag Rocks (Southern Ocean)
This research is the first to investigate deepwater demersal fish distribution and community structure around South Georgia and Shag Rocks. Analysis of catch data from a trawl survey conducted in 2003 indicated that depth and location have a marked influence over demersal fish community structure in the region. Three distinct, depth-stratified fish assemblages were observed. The demersal fish assemblage found on the shelf to depths of around 400 m was dominated by nototheniids and was comprised largely of species endemic to the Southern Ocean and Scotia Sea. At the greatest depths sampled (>600 m) the demersal fish community was dominated by gadiform fishes including members of the Macrouridae and Moridae, many of which are not endemic to the Southern Ocean. From 400 to 600 m there was a transitional zone with demersal fish representatives of both the shelf and deeper slope communities. Clear geographic differences in the shelf community were apparent with differences observed in community structure between South Georgia and Shag Rocks to depths of around 400 m. These data provide valuable baseline information to aid environmental management decisions and assess potential impacts of rapid ocean warming around South Georgia.
Authors: Gregory, Susan, Collins, Martin A., Belchier, Mark