A successful predictive model of species richness based on indicator species

R. Mac Nally, Erica Fleishman

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    77 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Although the impacts of industrial fishing are widely recognized, marine ecosystems are generally considered less threatened by artisanal fisheries. To determine how coral reef fish assemblages and benthic communities are affected by artisanal fishing, we studied six Caribbean islands on which fishing pressure ranged from virtually none in Bonaire, increasing through Saba, Puerto Rico, St Lucia, and Dominica, and reaching very high intensities in Jamaica. Using stationary-point fish counts at 5 m and 15 m depth, we counted and estimated the lengths of all noncryptic, diurnal fish species within replicate 10-m-diameter areas. We estimated percent cover of coral and algae and determined reef structural complexity. From fish numbers and lengths we calculated mean fish biomass per count for the five most commercially important families. Groupers (Serranidae), snappers (Lutjanidae), parrotfish (Scaridae), and surgeonfish (Acanthuridae) showed order-of-magnitude differences in biomass among islands. Biomass fell as fishing pressure increased. Only grunts (Haemulidae) did not follow this pattern. Within families, larger-bodied species decreased as fishing intensified. Coral cover and structural complexity were highest on little-fished islands and lowest on those most fished. By contrast, algal cover was an order of magnitude higher in Jamaica than in Bonaire. These results suggest that following the Caribbean-wide mass mortality of herbivorous sea urchins in 1983–1984 and consequent declines in grazing pressure on reefs, herbivorous fishes have not controlled algae overgrowing corals in heavily fished areas but have restricted growth in lightly fished areas. In summary, differences among islands in the structure of fish and benthic assemblages suggest that intensive artisanal fishing has transformed Caribbean reefs.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)646-654
    Number of pages9
    JournalConservation Biology
    Volume18
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2004

    Fingerprint

    indicator species
    species richness
    fishing
    species diversity
    artisanal fishing
    Netherlands Antilles
    algae
    fish
    Acanthuridae
    Scaridae
    Haemulidae
    corals
    reefs
    coral
    reef
    Jamaica
    benthos
    biomass
    alga
    Saint Lucia

    Cite this

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    title = "A successful predictive model of species richness based on indicator species",
    abstract = "Although the impacts of industrial fishing are widely recognized, marine ecosystems are generally considered less threatened by artisanal fisheries. To determine how coral reef fish assemblages and benthic communities are affected by artisanal fishing, we studied six Caribbean islands on which fishing pressure ranged from virtually none in Bonaire, increasing through Saba, Puerto Rico, St Lucia, and Dominica, and reaching very high intensities in Jamaica. Using stationary-point fish counts at 5 m and 15 m depth, we counted and estimated the lengths of all noncryptic, diurnal fish species within replicate 10-m-diameter areas. We estimated percent cover of coral and algae and determined reef structural complexity. From fish numbers and lengths we calculated mean fish biomass per count for the five most commercially important families. Groupers (Serranidae), snappers (Lutjanidae), parrotfish (Scaridae), and surgeonfish (Acanthuridae) showed order-of-magnitude differences in biomass among islands. Biomass fell as fishing pressure increased. Only grunts (Haemulidae) did not follow this pattern. Within families, larger-bodied species decreased as fishing intensified. Coral cover and structural complexity were highest on little-fished islands and lowest on those most fished. By contrast, algal cover was an order of magnitude higher in Jamaica than in Bonaire. These results suggest that following the Caribbean-wide mass mortality of herbivorous sea urchins in 1983–1984 and consequent declines in grazing pressure on reefs, herbivorous fishes have not controlled algae overgrowing corals in heavily fished areas but have restricted growth in lightly fished areas. In summary, differences among islands in the structure of fish and benthic assemblages suggest that intensive artisanal fishing has transformed Caribbean reefs.",
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    A successful predictive model of species richness based on indicator species. / Mac Nally, R.; Fleishman, Erica.

    In: Conservation Biology, Vol. 18, No. 3, 2004, p. 646-654.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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    AU - Mac Nally, R.

    AU - Fleishman, Erica

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    AB - Although the impacts of industrial fishing are widely recognized, marine ecosystems are generally considered less threatened by artisanal fisheries. To determine how coral reef fish assemblages and benthic communities are affected by artisanal fishing, we studied six Caribbean islands on which fishing pressure ranged from virtually none in Bonaire, increasing through Saba, Puerto Rico, St Lucia, and Dominica, and reaching very high intensities in Jamaica. Using stationary-point fish counts at 5 m and 15 m depth, we counted and estimated the lengths of all noncryptic, diurnal fish species within replicate 10-m-diameter areas. We estimated percent cover of coral and algae and determined reef structural complexity. From fish numbers and lengths we calculated mean fish biomass per count for the five most commercially important families. Groupers (Serranidae), snappers (Lutjanidae), parrotfish (Scaridae), and surgeonfish (Acanthuridae) showed order-of-magnitude differences in biomass among islands. Biomass fell as fishing pressure increased. Only grunts (Haemulidae) did not follow this pattern. Within families, larger-bodied species decreased as fishing intensified. Coral cover and structural complexity were highest on little-fished islands and lowest on those most fished. By contrast, algal cover was an order of magnitude higher in Jamaica than in Bonaire. These results suggest that following the Caribbean-wide mass mortality of herbivorous sea urchins in 1983–1984 and consequent declines in grazing pressure on reefs, herbivorous fishes have not controlled algae overgrowing corals in heavily fished areas but have restricted growth in lightly fished areas. In summary, differences among islands in the structure of fish and benthic assemblages suggest that intensive artisanal fishing has transformed Caribbean reefs.

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