Attenuating effects of ecosystem management on coral reefs

Steneck, Robert S., Mumby, Peter J., MacDonald, Chancey, Rasher, Douglas B., and Stoyle, George (2018) Attenuating effects of ecosystem management on coral reefs. Science Advances, 4 (5). eaao5493.

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Abstract

Managing diverse ecosystems is challenging because structuring drivers are often processes having diffuse impacts that attenuate from the people who were "managed" to the expected ecosystem-wide outcome. Coral reef fishes targeted for management only indirectly link to the ecosystem's foundation (reef corals). Three successively weakening interaction tiers separate management of fishing from coral abundance. We studied 12 islands along the 700-km eastern Caribbean archipelago, comparing fished and unfished coral reefs. Fishing reduced biomass of carnivorous (snappers and groupers) and herbivorous (parrotfish and surgeonfish) fishes. We document attenuating but important effects of managing fishing, which explained 37% of variance in parrotfish abundance, 20% of variance in harmful algal abundance, and 17% of variance in juvenile coral abundance. The explained variance increased when we quantified herbivory using area-specific bite rates. Local fisheries management resulted in a 62% increase in the archipelago's juvenile coral density, improving the ecosystem's recovery potential from major disturbances.

Item ID: 53883
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2375-2548
Copyright Information: Copyright © 2018. The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works. Distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial License 4.0 (CC BY-NC).
Funders: National Geographic Society (NGS), Australian Research Council (ARC), ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
Projects and Grants: NGS 9362-13, ARC Laureate Fellowship
Date Deposited: 06 Jun 2018 07:44
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050205 Environmental Management @ 50%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960507 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Marine Environments @ 100%
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