Short-term changes of fish assemblages observed in the near-pristine reefs of the Phoenix Islands

Short-term changes of fish assemblages observed in the near-pristine reefs of the Phoenix Islands Climate change-related disturbances are increasingly recognized as critical threats to biodiversity and species abundance. On coral reefs, climate disturbances have known consequences for reef fishes, but it is often difficult to isolate the effect of coral bleaching from preceding or simultaneous disturbances such as fishing, pollution, and habitat loss. In this study, pre-bleaching surveys of fish family assemblages in the remote Phoenix Islands in 2002 are compared to post-bleaching in 2005, following severe thermal stress. Post-bleaching, total coral cover decreased substantially, as did the combined abundance of all fish families. Yet, changes in abundance for specific fish families were not uniform, and varied greatly from site to site. Of the 13 fish families examined, 3 exhibited significant changes in abundance from 2002 to 2005, regardless of site (Carangidae, Chaetodontidae, and serranid subfamily Epinephelinae). For these families, we explored whether changes in abundance were related to island type (island vs atoll) and/or declining coral cover (percent change). Carangidae on islands experienced larger changes in abundance than those on atolls, though declines in abundance over time were not associated with changes in live coral cover. In contrast, for Chaetodontidae, declines in abundance over time were most dramatic on atolls, and were also associated with changes in live coral cover. The remoteness of the Phoenix Islands excludes many typical local anthropogenic stressors as drivers of short-term changes; observed changes are instead more likely attributed to natural variation in fish populations, or associated with coral loss following the 2002–2003 major thermal stress event. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries Springer Journals

Short-term changes of fish assemblages observed in the near-pristine reefs of the Phoenix Islands

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Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © 2013 by Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht
Subject
Life Sciences; Freshwater & Marine Ecology; Zoology
ISSN
0960-3166
eISSN
1573-5184
D.O.I.
10.1007/s11160-013-9327-5
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Climate change-related disturbances are increasingly recognized as critical threats to biodiversity and species abundance. On coral reefs, climate disturbances have known consequences for reef fishes, but it is often difficult to isolate the effect of coral bleaching from preceding or simultaneous disturbances such as fishing, pollution, and habitat loss. In this study, pre-bleaching surveys of fish family assemblages in the remote Phoenix Islands in 2002 are compared to post-bleaching in 2005, following severe thermal stress. Post-bleaching, total coral cover decreased substantially, as did the combined abundance of all fish families. Yet, changes in abundance for specific fish families were not uniform, and varied greatly from site to site. Of the 13 fish families examined, 3 exhibited significant changes in abundance from 2002 to 2005, regardless of site (Carangidae, Chaetodontidae, and serranid subfamily Epinephelinae). For these families, we explored whether changes in abundance were related to island type (island vs atoll) and/or declining coral cover (percent change). Carangidae on islands experienced larger changes in abundance than those on atolls, though declines in abundance over time were not associated with changes in live coral cover. In contrast, for Chaetodontidae, declines in abundance over time were most dramatic on atolls, and were also associated with changes in live coral cover. The remoteness of the Phoenix Islands excludes many typical local anthropogenic stressors as drivers of short-term changes; observed changes are instead more likely attributed to natural variation in fish populations, or associated with coral loss following the 2002–2003 major thermal stress event.

Journal

Reviews in Fish Biology and FisheriesSpringer Journals

Published: Nov 24, 2013

References

  • Conservation hotspots of biodiversity and endemism for Indo-Pacific coral reef fishes
    Allen, GR
  • The report of the ecological society of America committee on the scientific basis for ecosystem management
    Christensen, N; Bartuska, A; Brown, J; Carpenter, S; Da, C; Francis, R; Franklin, JF; MacMahon, JA; Noss, RF; Parsons, DJ; Peterson, CH; Turner, MG; Woodmansee, RG
  • A test of the higher-taxon approach in the identification of candidate sites for marine reserves
    Gladstone, W; Alexander, T
  • Climate warming, marine protected areas and the ocean-scale integrity of coral reef ecosystems
    Graham, NAJ; McClanahan, TR; MacNeil, MA; Wilson, SK; Polunin, NVC

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