Hidden giants: The story of Bolbometopon muricatum at ningaloo reef

Thomson, Damian P., Cresswell, Anna K., Doropoulos, Christopher, Haywood, Michael D.E., Orr, Melanie, and Hoey, Andrew S. (2021) Hidden giants: The story of Bolbometopon muricatum at ningaloo reef. Fishes, 6 (4). 73.

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Bolbometopon muricatum (bumphead parrotfish, Valenciennes, 1839) is a conspicuous, iconic and ecologically important coral reef fish species. B. muricatum plays an important role in the bioerosion of the reef framework and as a result has been described as both an ecosystem engineer and keystone species. Despite the complete absence of B. muricatum from 32 years of scientific surveys across the Ningaloo Reef World Heritage Area, we recorded a total of 155 individuals of B. muricatum across 63.2 ha of reef crest surveys, equating to mean density of 2.38 ind/ha. Our observations represent the first record of this iconic species in scientific surveys at Ningaloo and in combination with qualitative observations of B. muricatum by expert witnesses, indicate B. muricatum is likely to have been present in ecologically relevant densities since 2006. The densities of B. muricatum observed at northern Ningaloo in 2021 suggest this species is removing an estimated 13.42 tonnes/ha or 1.34 kg/m2 of calcium carbonate per year, which is broadly comparable with estimates of total parrotfish bioerosion across many reefs in the central Indian and Pacific Oceans. Although not currently afforded elevated conservation status within management plans, B. muricatum possess many life-history characteristics that make them vulnerable to overfishing and may justify consideration for increased protection within the world heritage listed Ningaloo Reef Marine Park.

Item ID: 72846
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2410-3888
Keywords: Bioerosion, Bolbometopon muricatum, Ecosystem engineer, Humphead parrotfish, Ningaloo
Copyright Information: © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Date Deposited: 27 Apr 2022 23:16
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 > 180599 Marine systems and management not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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