A critical evaluation of benthic phase shift studies on coral reefs

Crisp, Samantha K., Tebbett, Sterling B., and Bellwood, David R. (2022) A critical evaluation of benthic phase shift studies on coral reefs. Marine Environmental Research, 178. 105667.

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Coral reef decline has accelerated in the last two decades resulting in substantial research into the phenomenon of 'phase shifts' or 'regime shifts'. However, the conclusions drawn from this research have been varied. Some of this variability may stem from methodological approaches, although the extent to which these factors have shaped our understanding remain largely unexplored. To examine this, we conducted a systematic review of the literature. In doing so, we revealed marked variability in the approaches used for studying phase shifts. Notably, very few studies clearly defined what they meant by phase shifts. Therefore, we developed a clarified definition of phase shifts, which specifically defined persistence and dominance. The applicability of this definition was tested on multi-decadal benthic composition data on the Great Barrier Reef. The number of shifts depended critically on the definition selected, suggesting that this may be a primary reason underpinning the variability in past results.

Item ID: 75475
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 0141-1136
Keywords: Benthic cover, Ecosystem function, Ecosystem management, Marine ecology, Resilience, Regime shift
Copyright Information: Published Version: © 2022 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. AAM may be made open access in an Institutional Repository under a CC BY-NC-ND license after a 24 month embargo.
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: ARC FL190100062
Date Deposited: 13 Jul 2022 08:18
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 > 180501 Assessment and management of benthic marine ecosystems @ 100%
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