The ichthyofauna of the shallow rocky habitats was studied at three different localities on Israel's Mediterranean coast, at three sites, Mikhmoret (45 km north of Tel Aviv), Habonim (60 km north of Tel Aviv) and Rosh HaNiqra (Israel-Lebanese border). In total, 8387 individuals belonging to 79 species and 31 families were collected, including 35 species that were site attached, 23 resident species and 21 visitor species. The cluster analysis showed no significant differences between the three sites. The Euclidean distance was highest when all species were included, but dropped sharply when visitor species were omitted; the difference value was lowest when only benthic, site-attached species were considered. Seven Lessepsian (Suez Canal) migrant species were among the collected visitor species, two were among the residents, and there were none among the site-attached fish. We suggest that the low mobility and demersal spawning habits of the site-attached Red Sea species could hinder their invasion of the Mediterranean, as no continuous rocky habitat connects the northern Gulf of Suez, the Suez Canal and the southern Mediterranean coast of Israel. In addition, the re-colonization process following defaunation was examined. Monitoring of the study sites following the ichthyocide collections was possible in some cases and indicated that fish re-colonization was a fairly rapid process, complete after approximately 12 months, indicating that while single, small size defaunations can provide valuable information on the fish assemblage, they do not appear to cause long-term damage to such habitats.
- Lessepsian migration
- Rocky ichthyofauna