Coral recovery may not herald the return of fishes on damaged coral reefs

Bellwood, David R., Baird, Andrew H., Depczynski, Martial, González-Cabello, Alonso, Hoey, Andrew S., Lefevre, Carine D., and Tanner, Jennifer K. (2012) Coral recovery may not herald the return of fishes on damaged coral reefs. Oecologia, 170 (2). 1- 7.

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Abstract

The dynamic nature of coral reefs offers a rare opportunity to examine the response of ecosystems to disruption due to climate change. In 1998, the Great Barrier Reef experienced widespread coral bleaching and mortality. As a result, cryptobenthic fish assemblages underwent a dramatic phase-shift. Thirteen years, and up to 96 fish generations later, the cryptobenthic fish assemblage has not returned to its pre-bleach configuration. This is despite coral abundances returning to, or exceeding, pre-bleach values. The post-bleach fish assemblage exhibits no evidence of recovery. If these short-lived fish species are a model for their longer-lived counterparts, they suggest that (1) the full effects of the 1998 bleaching event on long-lived fish populations have yet to be seen, (2) it may take decades, or more, before recovery or regeneration of these long-lived species will begin, and (3) fish assemblages may not recover to their previous composition despite the return of corals.

Item ID: 22512
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 0029-8549
Date Deposited: 06 Aug 2012 06:22
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960802 Coastal and Estuarine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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