Coral bleaching, reef fish community phase shifts and the resilience of coral reefs

Bellwood, David R, Hoey, Andrew S, Ackerman, John L, and Depczynski, Martial (2006) Coral bleaching, reef fish community phase shifts and the resilience of coral reefs. Global Change Biology, 12 (9). pp. 1587-1594.

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The 1998 global coral bleaching event was the largest recorded historical disturbance of coral reefs and resulted in extensive habitat loss. Annual censuses of reef fish community structure over a 12-year period spanning the bleaching event revealed a marked phase shift from a prebleach to postbleach assemblage. Surprisingly, we found that the bleaching event had no detectable effect on the abundance, diversity or species richness of a local cryptobenthic reef fish community. Furthermore, there is no evidence of regeneration even after 5–35 generations of these short-lived species. These results have significant implications for our understanding of the response of coral reef ecosystems to global warming and highlight the importance of selecting appropriate criteria for evaluating reef resilience.

Item ID: 449
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1365-2486
Keywords: bleaching, community composition, coral reefs, fishes, habitat loss, phase shifts, resilience
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Copyright 2006 Blackwell Publishing. The definitive version is available at

Date Deposited: 28 Sep 2006
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960508 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Mining Environments @ 100%
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