Hierarchical and scale-dependent effects of fishing pressure and environment on the structure and size distribution of parrotfish communities

Taylor, Brett M., Lindfield, Steven J., and Choat, J. Howard (2015) Hierarchical and scale-dependent effects of fishing pressure and environment on the structure and size distribution of parrotfish communities. Ecography, 38. pp. 520-530.

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Abstract

Parrotfishes are considered to have a major influence on coral reef ecosystems through grazing the benthic biota and are also primary fishery targets in the Indo-Pacific. Consequently, the impact of human exploitation on parrotfish communities is of prime interest. As anthropogenic and environmental factors interact across spatial scales, sampling programs designed to disentangle these are required by both ecologists and resource managers. We present a multi-scale examination of patterns in parrotfish assemblage structure, size distribution and diversity across eight oceanic islands of Micronesia. Results indicate that correlates of assemblage structure are scale-dependent; biogeographic distributions of species and island geomorphology hierarchically influenced community patterns across islands whereas biophysical features and anthropogenic pressure influenced community assemblage structure at the within-island scale. Species richness and phylogenetic diversity increased with greater broad-scale habitat diversity associated with different island geomorphologies. However, within-island patterns of abundance and biomass varied in response to biophysical factors and levels of human influence unique to particular islands. While the effect of fishing activities on community composition and phylogenetic diversity was obscured across island types, fishing pressure was the primary correlate of mean parrotfish length at all spatial scales. Despite widespread fishery-induced pressure on Pacific coral reefs, the structuring of parrotfish communities at broad spatial scales remains a story largely dependent on habitat. Thus, we propose better incorporation of scale-dependent habitat effects in future assessments of overexploitation on reef fish assemblages. However, strong community-level responses within islands necessitate an improved understanding of the phylogenetic and functional consequences of altering community structure.

Item ID: 35461
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1600-0587
Funders: NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center
Date Deposited: 30 Sep 2014 05:43
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060202 Community Ecology (excl Invasive Species Ecology) @ 50%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 50%
SEO Codes: 83 ANIMAL PRODUCTION AND ANIMAL PRIMARY PRODUCTS > 8302 Fisheries - Wild Caught > 830204 Wild Caught Fin Fish (excl. Tuna) @ 100%
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