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Phase shifts, herbivory, and the resilience of coral reefs to climate change.
Curr Biol. 2007 Feb 20; 17(4):360-5.CB

Abstract

Many coral reefs worldwide have undergone phase shifts to alternate, degraded assemblages because of the combined effects of over-fishing, declining water quality, and the direct and indirect impacts of climate change. Here, we experimentally manipulated the density of large herbivorous fishes to test their influence on the resilience of coral assemblages in the aftermath of regional-scale bleaching in 1998, the largest coral mortality event recorded to date. The experiment was undertaken on the Great Barrier Reef, within a no-fishing reserve where coral abundances and diversity had been sharply reduced by bleaching. In control areas, where fishes were abundant, algal abundance remained low, whereas coral cover almost doubled (to 20%) over a 3 year period, primarily because of recruitment of species that had been locally extirpated by bleaching. In contrast, exclusion of large herbivorous fishes caused a dramatic explosion of macroalgae, which suppressed the fecundity, recruitment, and survival of corals. Consequently, management of fish stocks is a key component in preventing phase shifts and managing reef resilience. Importantly, local stewardship of fishing effort is a tractable goal for conservation of reefs, and this local action can also provide some insurance against larger-scale disturbances such as mass bleaching, which are impractical to manage directly.

Authors+Show Affiliations

Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Townsville QLD 4811, Australia. terry.hughes@jcu.edu.auNo affiliation info availableNo affiliation info availableNo affiliation info availableNo affiliation info availableNo affiliation info availableNo affiliation info availableNo affiliation info availableNo affiliation info availableNo affiliation info available

Pub Type(s)

Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

Language

eng

PubMed ID

17291763

Citation

Hughes, Terence P., et al. "Phase Shifts, Herbivory, and the Resilience of Coral Reefs to Climate Change." Current Biology : CB, vol. 17, no. 4, 2007, pp. 360-5.
Hughes TP, Rodrigues MJ, Bellwood DR, et al. Phase shifts, herbivory, and the resilience of coral reefs to climate change. Curr Biol. 2007;17(4):360-5.
Hughes, T. P., Rodrigues, M. J., Bellwood, D. R., Ceccarelli, D., Hoegh-Guldberg, O., McCook, L., Moltschaniwskyj, N., Pratchett, M. S., Steneck, R. S., & Willis, B. (2007). Phase shifts, herbivory, and the resilience of coral reefs to climate change. Current Biology : CB, 17(4), 360-5.
Hughes TP, et al. Phase Shifts, Herbivory, and the Resilience of Coral Reefs to Climate Change. Curr Biol. 2007 Feb 20;17(4):360-5. PubMed PMID: 17291763.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - Phase shifts, herbivory, and the resilience of coral reefs to climate change. AU - Hughes,Terence P, AU - Rodrigues,Maria J, AU - Bellwood,David R, AU - Ceccarelli,Daniela, AU - Hoegh-Guldberg,Ove, AU - McCook,Laurence, AU - Moltschaniwskyj,Natalie, AU - Pratchett,Morgan S, AU - Steneck,Robert S, AU - Willis,Bette, Y1 - 2007/02/08/ PY - 2006/11/16/received PY - 2006/12/18/revised PY - 2006/12/18/accepted PY - 2007/2/13/pubmed PY - 2007/4/5/medline PY - 2007/2/13/entrez SP - 360 EP - 5 JF - Current biology : CB JO - Curr Biol VL - 17 IS - 4 N2 - Many coral reefs worldwide have undergone phase shifts to alternate, degraded assemblages because of the combined effects of over-fishing, declining water quality, and the direct and indirect impacts of climate change. Here, we experimentally manipulated the density of large herbivorous fishes to test their influence on the resilience of coral assemblages in the aftermath of regional-scale bleaching in 1998, the largest coral mortality event recorded to date. The experiment was undertaken on the Great Barrier Reef, within a no-fishing reserve where coral abundances and diversity had been sharply reduced by bleaching. In control areas, where fishes were abundant, algal abundance remained low, whereas coral cover almost doubled (to 20%) over a 3 year period, primarily because of recruitment of species that had been locally extirpated by bleaching. In contrast, exclusion of large herbivorous fishes caused a dramatic explosion of macroalgae, which suppressed the fecundity, recruitment, and survival of corals. Consequently, management of fish stocks is a key component in preventing phase shifts and managing reef resilience. Importantly, local stewardship of fishing effort is a tractable goal for conservation of reefs, and this local action can also provide some insurance against larger-scale disturbances such as mass bleaching, which are impractical to manage directly. SN - 0960-9822 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/17291763/Phase_shifts_herbivory_and_the_resilience_of_coral_reefs_to_climate_change_ L2 - https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0960-9822(07)00882-2 DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -