Tropical marine fishes – identification and ecology Workshop

Coral reefs are one of the most biodiverse environments on the planet, one of the most incredibly diverse habitats of shapes, colors and organisms, as well as one of the most beautiful and majestic places we are lucky to observe. In this tropical environment, fish communities are a key and vital component for maintaining the balance and health of the ecosystem. Fish are usually the first element that we observe by observing the submerged environment; colonize each accessible or inaccessible habitat to the diver, modifying it, and are in turn conditioned by it. Despite the coral reefs representing less than 1% of the surface of the oceans they harbor about 25% of the known fish species. The fish fauna associated with the coral reefs represents a fascinating system for wealth, complexity and biodiversity, especially in the coral reefs of the Indo-Pacific, where there are more than 4000 species, which constitute an object of study accessible, mostly formed by relative species – sedentary, so easy to find, and short-lived compared to a human scale.

In particular, in the coral reefs of the Maldives, which represent about 5% of the area occupied by all the world’s coral ecosystems, more than 1100 species of fish have been recognized, with a variety of shapes, colors and behaviors that reflect the extreme complexity of the cliff ecosystem and that serve the fish to feed, to prey, to defend themselves or to “communicate” and interact with each other and with other organisms.

Fish fauna is thus an excellent model for studying the health status of coral reefs as well as the evolutionary processes linked to the relationship between form and function and the relative adaptations to colonized habitats. Moreover, considering that tropical fish depends largely on the survival of many coastal human communities, especially for the contribution of noble proteins through fishing, and the tourist and economic development of many areas, the study and description of a fish community can provide useful information for the management of all human activities concerning the sea, from fishing to tourism. The skills acquired in the field of fish biology and ecology are therefore resellable both in the sectors related to the protection and conservation of ecosystems, and in the fields of fisheries management, tourism, and of course the fields of academic application.

At the end of this theoretical-practical course the student will be able to:

  • recognize the main families of tropical fish associated with the reef habitat;
  • recognize at the level of genus or species the most important fish of the Indian ocean fauna;
  • describe a fish community based on the trophic groups that compose it;
  • understand and describe the temporal and spatial variations (nictimeral rhythms, reef zoning) of fish communities;
  • list the main patterns and processes that influence the structure of a fish community;
  • design and execute visual census operations, for the study and monitoring of fish communities;
  • identify the signs of overfishing, which can damage entire biological communities;
  • list the most significant indicator species in the area;
  • collect useful photographic data as a search method or as visual documentation.
2019 6-14 April Click here OPEN