Reef-scale variability in fish and coral assemblages on the central Great Barrier Reef

Bierwagen, Stacy L., Emslie, Michael J., Heupel, Michelle R., Chin, Andrew, and Simpfendorfer, Colin A. (2018) Reef-scale variability in fish and coral assemblages on the central Great Barrier Reef. Marine Biology, 165. 144.

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Coral reefs are threatened by changing climatic conditions, which will potentially alter the frequency and severity of disturbances in coming decades, casting doubt over the potential for reefs to recover and re-assemble the structure of their fish and coral assemblages. Here, fish and coral assemblages were examined at four reefs similar in size, aspect, disturbance history and latitudinal position from 2006 to 2016. We quantified variation in species and functional level assemblage structure among reefs before and after disturbance and examined whether there was evidence of any recovery. Fish and benthic assemblages varied in density and diversity, but the proportion of fish functional groups was similar among reefs. While some post-disturbance recovery of the benthos was evident, changes in fish functional structure did not uniformly reflect benthic recovery patterns. The apparent disconnect between changes in fish community structure and coral recovery may be due to lagged responses of some fishes post-disturbance, lack of reliance on hard coral cover by some fish trophic groups, or retention of habitat complexity. These results highlight the importance of reef-scale data in determining capacity of coral reefs to recover from disturbance.

Item ID: 55304
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1432-1793
Keywords: coral reefs, community structure, fish density, disturbance
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Copyright Information: © Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018
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A version of this publication was included as Chapter 3 of the following PhD thesis: Bierwagen, Stacy L. (2020) Functional roles of reef sharks on the Great Barrier Reef. PhD thesis, James Cook University, which is available Open Access in ResearchOnline@JCU. Please see the Related URLs for access.

Date Deposited: 05 Sep 2018 09:22
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4102 Ecological applications > 410203 Ecosystem function @ 20%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310302 Community ecology (excl. invasive species ecology) @ 60%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 20%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9610 Natural Hazards > 961006 Natural Hazards in Marine Environments @ 40%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9699 Other Environment > 969902 Marine Oceanic Processes (excl. Climate Related) @ 10%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 50%
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