Habitat structure, degradation and management effects on coral reef fish communities
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Coral reefs are among the most diverse and productive ecosystems on earth, and are critical to the survival of tropical marine ecosystems and sustenance of local human populations. However, coral reefs are quite vulnerable to disturbances, both natural and anthropogenic. This thesis looks at how coral reef communities have responded to climactic disturbances, particularly the 1997-98 El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and subsequent coral bleaching and mortality that affected much of the Indian Ocean, including the coastal waters of Tanzania, where the study was conducted. In particular, it investigates the effects of coral bleaching, habitat degradation and reef spatial arrangement on reef fish assemblages.
Habitat structural complexity and spatial arrangement of reefs had an effect on reef fish communities. Fish communities showed patterns in distribution among habitats and between patch and continuous reefs. Fishes preferred live to bleached/dead or eroded coral, but trophic groups reacted differently to patch and continuous reefs. There were slight changes in fish abundance and significant changes in fish diversity on experimental, bleached branching Acropora coral plots over a period of one year. While fish abundance on one site increased shortly after a bleaching event, 6 years later fish abundance had decreased significantly. Conversely, coral reef communities in northern Tanzania had changed little over an 8-year period, with minor changes associated with the 1997-98 ENSO and the presence or absence of fisheries management. The coral reefs in the region were found to show high variability in community structure and responses of associated fish and invertebrate communities.
The findings of this thesis indicate the importance of habitat structure and spatial arrangement of reefs, the detrimental effects of coral bleaching, and the possibility that some reefs and some (generalist) reef fish taxa may exhibit resilience to climate change.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Zoology, Stockholm University , 2011. , 46 p.
fish assemblages, climate change, coral degradation, Indian Ocean, patch reefs, coral bleaching, resilience
Research subject Animal Ecology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-62187ISBN: 978-91-7447-360-5OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-62187DiVA: diva2:440169
2011-10-07, Ahlmannsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 12, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Rosenqvist, Gunilla, Professor
Gullström, Martin, DrNylin, Sören, ProfessorJiddawi, Narriman, DrMgaya, Yunus, Professor
At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 3: Manuscript. Paper 4: Manuscript.
List of papers