Responses of algae, corals and fish to the reduction of macroalgae in fished and unfished patch reefs of Glovers Reef Atoll, Belize
2001 (English)In: Coral Reefs, ISSN 0722-4028, Vol. 19, no 4, 367-379 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Macroalgae were experimentally reduced by approximately 2.5 kg/m2 on eight similar-sized patch reefs of Glovers Reef Atoll, Belize, in September 1998. Four of these reefs were in a protected "no-take" zone and four were in a "general use" fishing zone. Eight adjacent reefs (four in each management zone) were also studied as unmanipulated controls to determine the interactive effect of algal reduction and fisheries management on algae, coral, fish, and rates of herbivory. The 16 reefs were sampled five times for 1 year after the manipulation. We found that the no-fishing zone had greater population densities for 13 of 30 species of fish, including four herbivorous species, but lower herbivory levels by sea urchins. However, there was lower stony coral cover and higher macroalgal cover in the "no-take" zone, both prior to and after the experiment. There were no significant effects of management on the percent cover of fleshy macroalgae. The algal reduction resulted in an increase in six fish species, including four herbivores and two which feed on invertebrates. One species, Lutjanus griseus, declined in experimental reefs. Macroalgal biomass quickly recovered from the reduction in both management areas within a few months, and by species-level community measures within 1 year, while stony coral was reduced in all treatments. Coral bleaching and Hurricane Mitch disturbed the site at the beginning of the study period and may explain the loss of stony coral and rapid increase in erect algae. We suggest that reducing macroalgae, as a technique to restore turf and encrusting coralline algae and stony corals, may work best after reefs have been fully protected from fishing for a period long enough to allow herbivorous fish to recover (i.e. >5 years). Further ecological studies on Glovers Reef are required to understand the shift from coral to algal dominance that has occurred on this reef in the last 25 years.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer , 2001. Vol. 19, no 4, 367-379 p.
Algae - Coral reef fishes - Disturbance - Fishing - Herbivory - Marine protected areas
Research subject Systems Ecology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-23180DOI: 10.1007/s003380000131OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-23180DiVA: diva2:190531
Part of urn:nbn:se:su:diva-1762004-05-172004-05-172009-12-28Bibliographically approved