Habitat degradation and ﬁshing effects on the size structure of coral reef ﬁsh communities
Wilson, S.K., Fisher, R., Pratchett, M.S., Graham, N.A.J., Dulvy, N.K., Turner , R.A., Cakacaka, A., and Polunin, N.V.C. (2010) Habitat degradation and ﬁshing effects on the size structure of coral reef ﬁsh communities. Ecological Applications, 20 (2). pp. 442-451.
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Overﬁshing and habitat degradation through climate change pose the greatest threats to sustainability of marine resources on coral reefs. We examined how changes in ﬁshing pressure and benthic habitat composition inﬂuenced the size spectra of island-scale reef ﬁsh communities in Lau, Fiji. Between 2000 and 2006 ﬁshing pressure declined in the Lau Islands due to declining human populations and reduced demand for fresh ﬁsh. At the same time, coral cover declined and ﬁne-scale architectural complexity eroded due to coral bleaching and outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starﬁsh, Acanthaster planci. We examined the size distribution of reef ﬁsh communities using size spectra analysis, the linearized relationship between abundance and body size class. Spatial variation in ﬁshing pressure accounted for 31% of the variation in the slope of the size spectra in 2000, higher ﬁshing pressure being associated with a steeper slope, which is indicative of fewer large-bodied ﬁsh and/or more small-bodied ﬁsh. Conversely, in 2006 spatial variation in habitat explained 53% of the variation in the size spectra slopes, and the relationship with ﬁshing pressure was much weaker (;12% of variation) than in 2000. Reduced cover of corals and lower structural complexity was associated with less steep size spectra slopes, primarily due to reduced abundance of ﬁsh ,20 cm. Habitat degradation will compound effects of ﬁshing on coral reefs as increased ﬁshing reduces large-bodied target species, while habitat loss results in fewer small-bodied juveniles and prey that replenish stocks and provide dietary resources for predatory target species. Effective management of reef resources therefore depends on both reducing ﬁshing pressure and maintaining processes that encourage rapid recovery of coral habitat.
|Item Type:||Article (Refereed Research - C1)|
Reproduced with permission from Ecological Society of America (ESA).
|Keywords:||climate change, coral reef fisheries, habitat complexity, disturbance|
|FoR Codes:||06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 50%|
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity @ 50%
|SEO Codes:||97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%|
|Deposited On:||26 Aug 2009 12:42|
|Last Modified:||14 Jun 2013 00:43|
Last 12 Months: 302
|Citation Counts with External Providers:||Web of Science: 19|
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