• coastal;
  • logging;
  • intertidal;
  • salmon;
  • sculpins;
  • temperate rainforest


  • 1.
    This study was conducted to determine whether there were significant differences in the species richness and community composition of fish assemblages in coastal nearshore habitats with differing compositions of supralittoral vegetation.
  • 2.
    We sampled fish assemblages and conducted supralittoral vegetation surveys at 27 beaches on the west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Thirteen of the beaches had supralittoral vegetation characteristic of old-growth coastal forests and 14 had been previously subjected to logging or other disturbances.
  • 3.
    Physical features (e.g. substrate, salinity, etc.) were recorded at each beach to determine whether there were significant associations between supralittoral vegetation and beach characteristics as well as between beach characteristics and fish assemblages.
  • 4.
    Across all 27 beaches, 1832 individuals of 31 species of nearshore fish were collected, primarily juvenile cottids and salmonids. Mean species richness did not differ between beaches with old-growth versus secondary-growth supralittoral vegetation; however, a higher cumulative number of species was found at beaches with old-growth supralittoral vegetation.
  • 5.
    Canonical Correspondence Analysis (CCA) showed that beach characteristics and supralittoral vegetation were not significantly associated. Separate CCA for fish associations with beach characteristics and fish associations with supralittoral vegetation explained ∼55% of the variance in fish assemblage composition, suggesting that fish assemblage composition is significantly affected by substrate, submerged vegetation, and physico-chemical conditions as well as by the community composition of vegetation in adjacent supralittoral habitats.
  • 6.
    Specifically, we found associations between supralittoral vegetation and penpoint gunnels (Apodichthys flavidus Girard), tidepool sculpins (Oligocottus maculosus Girard), Pacific staghorn sculpins (Leptocottus armatus Girard), arrow gobies (Clevelandia ios Jordan and Gilbert), shiner perch (Cymatogaster aggregata Gibbons) and kelp perch (Brachyistius frenatus Gill). Juvenile chum (Oncorhynchus keta Walbaum) and coho (Oncorhynchus kisutch Walbaum) salmon were strongly associated with supralittoral vegetation characteristic of mature coastal forests such as mosses and western red cedar (Thuja plicata) suggesting that some nearshore fish species may be affected by processes originating in terrestrial ecosystems.
  • 7.
    Our results suggest that some nearshore fish species may be affected by removal of supralittoral vegetation.

Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.