Spatial variability in habitat structure and heterogenic coral reef fish assemblages inside a small-scale marine reserve after a coral mass mortality event
Number of Authors: 3
2015 (English)In: Ocean and Coastal Management, ISSN 0964-5691, E-ISSN 1873-524X, Vol. 114, 32-41 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Coral reefs at the inner granitic islands in the Seychelles were heavily affected by the worldwide bleaching event in 1998, which led to subsequent coral mortality and widespread phase shifts to macroalgae dominated reefs. In this study, five sites within a small, but well enforced marine reserve at Cousin Island, were investigate using various methods to explore differences in coral habitat quality, coral recruitment, fish assemblages, key invertebrate grazers, and rugosity. The objective of the study was to collect a broad set of scientific data, which could be useful to describe linkage between coral reef and fish assemblages after a large-scale disturbance, as well as for future management decisions regarding marine resources, in terms of MPA protection and recovery abilities. The results showed high spatial variation in coral coverage between sites (from 1.5% to 43.2%), which were higher than previously reported, as well as high variation in dispersal of coral recruits. Furthermore, there were large heterogenic differences in fish densities and composition, which were directly linked to coral habitat quality, e.g. total fish abundance was 15 times higher on sites with high coral coverage in comparison to sites with low coral cover. In summary, this study demonstrates that coral reef habitat and fish assemblage may display high spatial variability and heterogenic differences after large-scale disturbances and suggests that potential recovery from coral mass mortality may occur in a non-linear and patchy procedure, which in turn may depend on underlying stocastical processes that affect coral recruitment and survivorship.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 114, 32-41 p.
Marine protected areas, Coral reef, Habitat quality, Fish community, Management, Seychelles
Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Research subject Marine Ecotoxicology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-120908DOI: 10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2015.06.003ISI: 000359502100004OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-120908DiVA: diva2:856682