The damselfish Chromis chromis is typically the most abundant fish species in the rocky littoral environment of the Mediterranean Sea, where it feeds in huge shoals on incoming zooplankton and rests near the seabed each night. Research has shown that large populations of C. chromis play a fundamental role by transferring carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus directly from the pelagic system to the littoral in the form of solid and liquid wastes and therefore that this species acts as a vital conduit for nutrients. In addition, C. chromis represents a major prey item for predatory fish and seabirds, it has been shown to exert significant predation pressure on coastal zooplankton populations, but it is also a major consumer of fish eggs and hence may have a strong influence on the dynamics of other fish species. In this review paper the contention is that C. chromis represents a key species in the Mediterranean Sea rocky littoral. This view is supported by quantitative evidence that has been amassed over a number of years, but is collated here for the first time. Chromis chromis is of only minor importance to commercial fisheries (it is usually discarded), but trends in population abundance of this species can be indicative of levels of fishing pressure on other commercial species. It has been demonstrated that where predator numbers are able to recover from intensive fishing (e.g.in marine protected areas; MPAs), this is often mirrored by lower densities of C. chromis. Several papers have championed C. chromis as a possible indicator species for human disturbance. As well as being directly and indirectly affected by fishing, the species is also sensitive to a number of other anthropogenic pressures, most notably poor water quality and noise pollution.
Journal of Fish Biology – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2018
Keywords: ; ; ; ; ;
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