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Response of fishes to algal reductions at Glovers Reef, Belize
The Wildlife Conservation Society, PO Box 99470, Mombasa, Kenya.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Systems Ecology.
Department of Marine Sciences, University of South Florida,.
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2000 (English)In: Marine Ecology Progress Series, ISSN 0171-8630, Vol. 206, 273-282 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Many Caribbean coral reefs have experienced an increase in erect brown algae (species of Sargassum, Turbinaria and Lobophora) over the past 18 yr. We explored the effects of fleshy algal overgrowth on coral reef fishes by reducing erect algae by ~2.5 kg(wet) m-2 on 8 patch reefs (average size ~1000 m2) whereby half were in a new no-fishing zone and half in an unrestricted fishing zone. Another 8 reefs were left as unmanipulated controls in the respective zones. Multivariate ordination indicated that the algal removal had marginal effect on whole-fish assemblages but that effect was highly significant on the biomass of common herbivores. The reduction of erect algae resulted in a rapid increase in the abundance of the blue-headed wrasse Thalassoma bifasciatum (Labridae), in the biomass of the blue tang Acanthurus coeruleus (Acanthuridae), and in both the abundance and biomass of the spotlight parrotfish Sparisoma viride (Scaridae). Bite rates and intra- and inter-specific aggressive encounters were used as measures of resource quality, and we found that these measures increased for surgeonfishes and damselfishes after the algal reduction, particularly in the center of the patch reefs, where most erect algae was originally located. Increased accessibility, net production and palatability of the early successional turf algae on the manipulated reefs are likely to account for the increased numbers, biomass and feeding rates of the dominant herbivorous fishes.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Inter-Research , 2000. Vol. 206, 273-282 p.
Keyword [en]
Acanthuridae · Algal-fish interactions · Brown algae · Herbivory · Labridae · Management interactions · Sargassum · Scaridae · Turbinaria
National Category
Biological Sciences
Research subject
Systems Ecology
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-23179DOI: doi:10.3354/meps206273OAI: diva2:190530
Part of urn:nbn:se:su:diva-176Available from: 2004-05-17 Created: 2004-05-17 Last updated: 2009-12-28Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Masking environmental feedback: Misfits between institutions and ecosystems in Belize and Thailand
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Masking environmental feedback: Misfits between institutions and ecosystems in Belize and Thailand
2004 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The thesis analyses relationships between ecological and social systems in the context of coastal ecosystems. It examines human impacts from resource extraction and addresses management and governance behind resource exploitation. The main premises are that a lack of ecological knowledge leads to poor ecosystem management and that the dichotomy between social and natural systems is an artificial one. The thesis illustrates the importance of basing resource management on the ecological conditions of the resource and its ecosystem. It also demonstrates the necessity of accounting for the human dimension in ecosystem management and the challenges of organising human actions for sustainable use of ecosystem services in the face of economic incentives that push users towards short-term extraction.

Many Caribbean coral reefs have undergone a shift from coral to macroalgal domination. An experiment on Glovers Reef Atoll in Belize manually cleared patch reefs in a no-take zone and a fished zone (Papers I and II). The study hypothesised that overfishing has reduced herbivorous fish populations that control macroalgae growth. Overall, management had no significant effect on fish abundance and the impacts of the algal reduction were short-lived. This illustrated that the benefits of setting aside marine reserves in impacted environments should not be taken for granted.

Papers III and IV studied the development of the lobster and conch fisheries in Belize, and the shrimp farming industry in Thailand respectively. These studies found that environmental feedback can be masked to give the impression of resource abundance through sequential exploitation. In both cases inadequate property rights contributed to this unsustainable resource use.

The final paper (V) compared the responses to changes in the resource by the lobster fisheries in Belize and Maine in terms of institutions, organisations and their role in management. In contrast to Maine’s, the Belize system seems to lack social mechanisms for responding effectively to environmental feedback. The results illustrate the importance of organisational and institutional diversity that incorporate ecological knowledge, respond to ecosystem feedback and provide a social context for learning from and adapting to change.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Institutionen för systemekologi, 2004. 35 p.
Marine reserves, ecosystem change, sequential exploitation, pathology of resource use, institutions, driving forces, coral reefs, social-ecological systems, mangroves, aquaculture, Belize, Thailand, Maine
National Category
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-176 (URN)91-7265-881-9 (ISBN)
Public defence
2004-06-07, Nordenskiöldsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 8 C, Stockholm, 10:00
Available from: 2004-05-17 Created: 2004-05-17Bibliographically approved

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Huitric, MiriamElfwing, TinaNyström, Magnus
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Department of ZoologyDepartment of Systems Ecology
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