Document Detail

Habitat degradation and fishing effects on the size structure of coral reef fish communities.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  20405798     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
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 (approximately 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.
S K Wilson; R Fisher; M S Pratchett; N A J Graham; N K Dulvy; R A Turner; A Cakacaka; N V C Polunin
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Ecological applications : a publication of the Ecological Society of America     Volume:  20     ISSN:  1051-0761     ISO Abbreviation:  Ecol Appl     Publication Date:  2010 Mar 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2010-04-21     Completed Date:  2010-05-06     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  9889808     Medline TA:  Ecol Appl     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  442-51     Citation Subset:  IM    
School of Marine Science & Technology, University of Newcastle, Newcastle-upon-Tyne NE1 7RU United Kingdom.
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MeSH Terms
Anthozoa / growth & development*
Climate Change
Conservation of Natural Resources
Environmental Monitoring
Fishes / growth & development*
Human Activities

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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