Comparative demography of commercially important species of coral grouper, Plectropomus leopardus and P. laevis, from Australia's great barrier reef and Coral Sea marine parks

Payet, Samuel D., Lowe, Jake R., Mapstone, Bruce D., Pratchett, Morgan S., Sinclair-Taylor, Tane H., Taylor, Brett M., Waldie, Peter A., and Harrison, Hugo B. (2020) Comparative demography of commercially important species of coral grouper, Plectropomus leopardus and P. laevis, from Australia's great barrier reef and Coral Sea marine parks. Journal of Fish Biology, 97 (4). pp. 1165-1176.

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Abstract

Understanding the spatial and environmental variation in demographic processes of fisheries target species, such as coral grouper (Genus: Plectropomus), is important for establishing effective management and conservation strategies. Herein we compare the demography of Plectropomus leopardus and P. laevis between Australia's Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (GBRMP), which has been subject to sustained and extensive fishing pressure, and the oceanic atolls of Australia's Coral Sea Marine Park (CSMP), where there is very limited fishing for reef fishes. Coral grouper length‐at‐age data from contemporary and historical otolith collections across 9.4 degrees of latitude showed little difference in lifetime growth between GBRMP and CSMP regions. Plectropomus laevis populations in GBRMP reefs had significantly higher rates of total mortality than populations in the CSMP. Mean maximum lengths and mean maximum ages of P. laevis were also smaller in the GBRMP than in the CSMP, even when considering populations sampled within GBRMP no‐take marine reserves (NTMRs). Plectropomus leopardus, individuals were on average smaller on fished reefs than NTMRs in the GBRMP, but all other aspects of demography were broadly similar between regions despite the negligible levels of fishing pressure in the CSMP. Similarities between regions in growth profiles and length‐at‐age comparisons of P. laevis and P. leopardus suggest that the environmental differences between the CSMP and the GBRMP may not have significant impacts on lifetime growth. Our results show that fishing may have influenced the demography of coral grouper on the GBR, particularly for the slower growing and longer lived species, P. laevis.

Item ID: 64371
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1095-8649
Keywords: coral grouper, Coral Sea, demography, great barrier reef, marine reserve, Plectropomus
Copyright Information: © 2020 Fisheries Society of the British Isles
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC), Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC), Cooperative Research Centre for the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area (CRC Reef) at JCU, James Cook University (JCU)
Projects and Grants: ARC Discovery Early Career Research Award Grant Number: DE160101141, FRDC Project 1996 ‐138, FRDC Project 1997 ‐124, FRDC Project 1998 ‐131, FRDC Project 2018 ‐034, JCU Postgraduate Research Scholarships
Date Deposited: 16 Sep 2020 07:40
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1805 Marine systems and management > 180504 Marine biodiversity @ 100%
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