Spatial subsidies drive sweet spots of tropical marine biomass production

Morais Araujo, Renato A., Siqueira Correa, Alexandre C., Smallhorn-West, Patrick F., and Bellwood, David R. (2021) Spatial subsidies drive sweet spots of tropical marine biomass production. PLoS Biology, 19 (11). e3001435.

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Spatial subsidies increase local productivity and boost consumer abundance beyond the limits imposed by local resources. In marine ecosystems, deeper water and open ocean subsidies promote animal aggregations and enhance biomass that is critical for human harvesting. However, the scale of this phenomenon in tropical marine systems remains unknown. Here, we integrate a detailed assessment of biomass production in 3 key locations, spanning a major biodiversity and abundance gradient, with an ocean-scale dataset of fish counts to predict the extent and magnitude of plankton subsidies to fishes on coral reefs. We show that planktivorous fish-mediated spatial subsidies are widespread across the Indian and Pacific oceans and drive local spikes in biomass production that can lead to extreme productivity, up to 30 kg ha−1 day−1. Plankton subsidies form the basis of productivity “sweet spots” where planktivores provide more than 50% of the total fish production, more than all other trophic groups combined. These sweet spots operate at regional, site, and smaller local scales. By harvesting oceanic productivity, planktivores bypass spatial constraints imposed by local primary productivity, creating “oases” of tropical fish biomass that are accessible to humans.

Item ID: 72898
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1545-7885
Copyright Information: © 2021 Morais et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: ARC FL190100062
Date Deposited: 09 Mar 2022 02:36
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310302 Community ecology (excl. invasive species ecology) @ 50%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 50%
SEO Codes: 28 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 2801 Expanding knowledge > 280102 Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences @ 50%
18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1805 Marine systems and management > 180504 Marine biodiversity @ 50%
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