A survey of the benthic macrofauna and fish species assemblages in a mangrove habitat in Ghana
In order to enhance ecological knowledge for coastal and mangrove ecosystem conservation in Ghana, the study documents the taxonomic groups of benthic macrofauna and fish assemblages in an urban mangrove swamp as its fundamental objective with emphasis on their composition, richness and diversity. This is because benthic and fish fauna of mangrove habitats are amongst the least studied biota in Ghana. Fish and benthos sampling was undertaken from five randomly selected pools within a mangrove stand during the wet and dry seasons using pole-seine net (7 m long and 1.5 m depth, with stretched mesh size of 5 mm) and an Ekman grab (15 cm × 15 cm dimensions), respectively. All samples were preserved in 10% formalin for laboratory analysis. The results indicated a more diverse macrozoobenthic community in the wet (H¹ = 1.8) than dry season (H¹ = 1.5). Overall, five out of a total of 13 genera found are intolerant to pollution and four moderately tolerant, while four comprising polychaetes and the midge Chironomus, are pollution tolerant. This suggests that the mangrove habitat is less polluted. A grand total of 917 fish specimens, belonging to 15 species and nine families, were encountered for both seasons (371 and 546 specimens for wet and dry seasons, respectively). The black-chinned tilapia, Sarotherodon melanotheron, was the dominant fish species in the wet season, accounting for 54.2% of the total fish caught, whilst the grey mullets, Mugil babanensis and Mugil curema, were the dominant species in the dry season, with a combined total of 51.4% of the fish population. However, over 70% of these dominant fish species from both seasons were juveniles providing a strong justification for the observation that the mangrove habitats are nursery grounds for fish inhabiting adjacent riverine, estuarine and inshore marine habitats. Considering this relevance of mangroves and the ongoing conversion attempts of mangrove habitats to other land uses, a concerted mangroves conservation effort is strongly advocated.