Research Article

Habitat utilisation of Pseudobarbus afer and Sandelia capensis in headwaters of the Swartkops River, Eastern Cape, South Africa

Published in: African Journal of Aquatic Science
Volume 45, issue 3, 2020 , pages: 364–371
DOI: 10.2989/16085914.2020.1719815
Author(s): B Hannweg, South Africa, SM Marr, South Africa, LE Bloy, South Africa, OLF Weyl, South Africa

Abstract

Habitat degradation is one of the greatest threats to endemic freshwater fish in the Cape Fold Ecoregion. One habitat restoration strategy is the replication of critical habitat using artificial materials. In this paper, we evaluate the habitat occupancy of two small, endemic headwater fish of the Cape Fold Ecoregion, namely the Eastern Cape redfin Pseudobarbus afer (Peters, 1864) and the Cape Kurper Sandelia capensis (Cuvier, 1829). Habitat occupancy was observed in five pool microhabitats (inflow, woody debris, deep open, fern-root wads, and outflow) using action cameras. Changes in habitat occupancy were assessed following the introduction of an artificial habitat in the form of PVC pipes. Pseudobarbus afer preferred deeper open habitats, whereas Sandelia capensis preferred more structured woody debris habitat. Habitat occupancies differed significantly across all microhabitats for both species; excluding those between the inflow and outflow, and the open deep and fern-root wads for Sandelia capensis. Pseudobarbus afer and S. capensis occupancies in the natural microhabitats reduced significantly following the introduction of the artificial habitat. For species restricted to degraded habitats that require habitat restoration, the use of artificial habitat may be beneficial in accelerating the recovery of such species.

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