Life histories predict vulnerability to overexploitation in parrotfishes

Taylor, Brett M., Houk, Peter, Russ, Garry R., and Choat, J. Howard (2014) Life histories predict vulnerability to overexploitation in parrotfishes. Coral Reefs, 33 (4). pp. 869-878.

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Abstract

A scarcity of life-history data currently exists for many exploited coral reef fishes, hindering our ability to interpret fishery dynamics and develop sound conservation policies. In particular, parrotfishes (Family Labridae) represent a ubiquitous and ecologically important group that is increasingly prevalent in commercial and artisanal fisheries worldwide. We used both fishery-dependent and fishery-independent data to examine the effect of life histories on vulnerability to overexploitation in parrotfishes. Vulnerability for each species was derived from independent measures associated with both temporal (20-year catch records) and spatial datasets. Most life-history traits examined were significant predictors of vulnerability across species, but their relative utility differed considerably. Length-based traits (e.g., lengths at maturity and sex change, maximum length) were generally superior to age-based traits (e.g., life span), but one age-based trait, age at female maturation, was the best predictor. The results suggest that easily derived metrics such as maximum length can be effective measures of sensitivity to exploitation when applied to phylogenetically related multispecies assemblages, but more holistic and comprehensive age-based demographic data should be sought, especially in data-deficient and heavily impacted regions. Given the increasing prevalence of parrotfishes in the global coral reef harvest, species-specific responses demonstrate the capacity for heavy fishing pressure to alter parrotfish assemblages considerably.

Item ID: 33940
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1432-0975
Keywords: vulnerability; parrotfish; life history; age at maturity; multispecies fisheries
Funders: NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, Guam Coral Reef Initiative, James Cook University
Date Deposited: 17 Jul 2014 01:46
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060202 Community Ecology (excl Invasive Species Ecology) @ 50%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050209 Natural Resource Management @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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