Effects of habitat structure on tropical fish assemblages
2007 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Rates of habitat alteration and degradation are increasing worldwide due to anthropogenic influence. On coral reefs, the loss of live coral reduces structural complexity while facilitating algal increase. In many coastal lagoons seagrass and corals are cleared to make room for cultivated macroalgae. This thesis deals with reef and lagoon habitat structure and how fish assemblage patterns may be related to physical and biological features of the habitat. It further examines assemblage change following habitat disturbance. Four studies on East African coral reefs concluded that both the abundance and species richness of recruit and adult coral reef fish were largely predicted by the presence of live coral cover and structural complexity (Papers I-III, VI). Typically, recruits were more selective than adults, as manifested by limited distributions to degraded sites. Paper VI compared short- and long-term responses of fish assemblages to the 1997-1998 bleaching event. The short-term response to coral mortality included the loss of coral dwelling species in favour of species which feed on algae or associated detrital resources. Counterintuitively, fish abundance and taxonomic richness increased significantly at one of two sites shortly after the bleaching. However, the initial increase was later reversed and six years after the death of the coral, only a limited number of fish remained. The influence of fleshy algae on fish assemblages was studied in algal farms (Paper IV), and examined experimentally (Paper V). The effects of algal farming in Zanzibar were significant. Meanwhile, manually clearing algal-dominated patch reefs in Belize from macroalgae resulted in short-term increases of abundance, biomass and activity of a few species, including major herbivores. The findings of this thesis demonstrate the significance of habitat as a structuring factor for tropical fish assemblages and predicts that coral death, subsequent erosion and algal overgrowth may have substantial deleterious impacts on fish assemblage composition, abundance and taxonomic richness, with recovery being slow and related to the recovery of the reef framework.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Zoologiska institutionen , 2007. , 39 p.
Research subject Marine Ecology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-6767ISBN: 91-7155-361-4OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-6767DiVA: diva2:197013
2007-06-08, sal G, Arrheniuslaboratorierna, Svante Arrhenius väg 14-18, Stockholm, 13:30
Jones, Geoffrey, Professor
Öhman, Marcus, Docent
List of papers