Abstract: Overfishing is considered one of the three most significant threats to coral reef ecosystems. Exponentially increasing human populations in the tropics have placed enormous demands upon reefs as a food source. At high intensities, termed ecosystem or Malthusian overfishing, fishing causes major direct and indirect effects on the community structure of fishes and other organisms. It reduces species diversity and leads to local extinctions not only of target species but also of other species not fished directly. Conceivably it could also lead to global extinctions. Loss of keystone species, such as predators of echinoderms, through fishing, can lead to major effects on reef processes, such as accretion of calcium carbonate. Ultimately, sustained heavy fishing may lead to loss of entire functional groups of species, resulting in impairment of the potentially important ecosystem functions provided by those groups. Overfishing has been shown to interact with other agents of disturbance to reduce the ability of reefs to recover from natural occurrences such as hurricanes. Effective management of fishing will require a deeper understanding of the effects of exploitation than we now possess. Research initiatives are underway to examine the responses of fish populations to fishing, generally responses to protection from fishing. There is, however, an urgent need to look beyond fish communities and to consider the entire reef ecosystem. Studies that integrate population and community biology with ecosystem processes will provide a much better understanding of the effects of biodiversity loss on reef function and will improve our ability to manage these complex systems. Efecto de la pesca sobre la estructura ecosistémica de los arrecifes de coral
Conservation Biology – Wiley
Published: Oct 1, 1995
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