Trophic and benthic responses to no-take marine reserve protection in the Philippines

Stockwell, Brian, Jadloc, Claro Renato L., Abesamis, Rene A., Alcala, Angel C., and Russ, Garry R. (2009) Trophic and benthic responses to no-take marine reserve protection in the Philippines. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 389. pp. 1-15.

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Abstract

No-take marine reserves are expected to enhance coral reef resilience indirectly through suppression of algal growth and thus maintenance of coral dominance. The mechanism of such enhancement is protection of functionally important herbivorous fishes from harvest. We provide indirect (inferred) evidence of reserves performing this role. We used data on herbivorous fishes, macroalgae and corals collected at one point in time in 15 reserves (range of duration of protection: 0.5 to 11 yr) and at 15 fished sites in the Philippines. Results inferred a 9- and 15-fold increase in density and biomass, respectively, of herbivorous fishes, which coincided with a 13-fold decrease in macroalgal cover inside reserves after 11 yr of protection. The inferred decline in macroalgal cover was more rapid during the first 5 yr of protection. No significant trends in fish abundance or macroalgal cover were detected among fished sites. Biomass of herbivorous fishes was 8 times higher, and cover of macroalgae 25 times lower, on average, inside older (8 to 11 yr) reserves than at fished sites. Parrotfishes (Scaridae) and surgeonfishes (Acanthuridae) had markedly different inferred trajectories of population recovery. Recovery of parrotfish was more rapid than that of surgeonfish in the first 5 yr of protection, suggesting that the functional role of parrotfish was important in reducing macroalgal cover. The inferred relationships of hard coral cover with duration of reserve protection and with herbivore biomass were non-significant. Even at fished sites, coral cover (mostly >25%) was much higher than macrolgal cover (mostly <15%). Thus, there was no evidence that the current levels of fishing of herbivores on these reefs have led to ‘benthic phase shifts’.

Item ID: 10488
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1616-1599
Keywords: coral reefs; herbivorous fish; macroalgae; marine reserves; phase shifts; resilience; trophic responses; marine science (ecology)
Date Deposited: 20 Apr 2010 01:55
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050102 Ecosystem Function @ 45%
07 AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES > 0704 Fisheries Sciences > 070403 Fisheries Management @ 45%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050101 Ecological Impacts of Climate Change @ 10%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960507 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Marine Environments @ 70%
83 ANIMAL PRODUCTION AND ANIMAL PRIMARY PRODUCTS > 8302 Fisheries - Wild Caught > 830204 Wild Caught Fin Fish (excl. Tuna) @ 30%
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