Impacts of artisanal fishing on key functional groups and the potential vulnerability of coral reefs

Lokrantz, Jerker, Nyström, Marcus, Norström, Albert V., Folke, Carl, and Cinner, Joshua E. (2009) Impacts of artisanal fishing on key functional groups and the potential vulnerability of coral reefs. Environmental Conservation, 36 (4). pp. 327-337.

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Abstract

Fishing can have major impacts on the structure of coral reef ecosystems. Overfishing of herbivores is particularly detrimental, as it makes the coral system more likely to undergo shifts to macroalgal dominance in the event of coral mass mortality. Knowing when important processes, such as herbivory, are becoming brittle is important because it can provide an opportunity for managers to avoid undesirable ecosystem-level changes. This study investigates the impact of artisanal fishing on three important functional groups of herbivores (grazers, scrapers and excavators) on five coral-dominated reefs outside Zanzibar (Tanzania). There was a negative correlation between fishing pressure and fish biomass, abundance, diversity and species richness. Moreover, fishing had a negative influence on the demographic structure of functional groups, particularly excavators, manifesting itself as a skewness towards smaller individuals within populations. Artisanal fishing can have significant impacts on key functional groups of herbivorous reef fishes which may increase the vulnerability of coral reefs to undesirable ecosystem shifts.

Item ID: 15033
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: artisanal fishing, coral reefs, ecosystem function, functional groups, herbivory, resilience, vulnerability, Zanzibar
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ISSN: 1469-4387
Date Deposited: 19 May 2011 23:01
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1608 Sociology > 160802 Environmental Sociology @ 10%
07 AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES > 0704 Fisheries Sciences > 070403 Fisheries Management @ 40%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050102 Ecosystem Function @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960506 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Fresh, Ground and Surface Water Environments @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 50%
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