Centre de ressources numériques
Understanding the drivers of species' geographic distribution has fundamental implications for the management of biodiversity. For coral reef fishes, mangroves have long been recognized as important nursery habitats sustaining biodiversity in the Western Atlantic but there is still debate about their role in the Indo-Pacific. Here, we combined LA-ICP-MS otolith microchemistry, underwater visual censuses (UVC) and mangrove cartography to estimate the importance of mangroves for the Indo-Pacific coral reef fish Lutjanus fulviflamma in the archipelago of New Caledonia. Otolith elemental compositions allowed high discrimination of mangroves and reefs with 83.8% and 98.7% correct classification, respectively. Reefs were characterized by higher concentrations of Rb and Sr and mangroves by higher concentrations of Ba, Cr, Mn and Sn. All adult L. fulviflamma collected on reefs presented a mangrove signature during their juvenile stage with 85% inhabiting mangrove for their entire juvenile life (about 1 year). The analysis of 2942 UVC revealed that the species was absent from isolated islands of the New Caledonian archipelago where mangroves were absent. Furthermore, strong positive correlations existed between the abundance of L. fulviflamma and the area of mangrove (r = 0.84 for occurrence, 0.93 for density and 0.89 for biomass). These results indicate that mangrove forest is an obligatory juvenile habitat for L. fulviflamma in New Caledonia and emphasize the potential importance of mangroves for Indo-Pacific coral reef fishes.