Basic Life Science Research Associate, Academic Units
Combining fish and benthic communities into multiple regimes reveals complex reef dynamics.
2018; 8 (1): 16943
Coral reefs worldwide face an uncertain future with many reefs reported to transition from being dominated by corals to macroalgae. However, given the complexity and diversity of the ecosystem, research on how regimes vary spatially and temporally is needed. Reef regimes are most often characterised by their benthic components; however, complex dynamics are associated with losses and gains in both fish and benthic assemblages. To capture this complexity, we synthesised 3,345 surveys from Hawai'i to define reef regimes in terms of both fish and benthic assemblages. Model-based clustering revealed five distinct regimes that varied ecologically, and were spatially heterogeneous by island, depth and exposure. We identified a regime characteristic of a degraded state with low coral cover and fish biomass, one that had low coral but high fish biomass, as well as three other regimes that varied significantly in their ecology but were previously considered a single coral dominated regime. Analyses of time series data reflected complex system dynamics, with multiple transitions among regimes that were a function of both local and global stressors. Coupling fish and benthic communities into reef regimes to capture complex dynamics holds promise for monitoring reef change and guiding ecosystem-based management of coral reefs.
View details for PubMedID 30446687
Seascape models reveal places to focus coastal fisheries management
2018; 28 (4): 910–25
To design effective marine reserves and support fisheries, more information on fishing patterns and impacts for targeted species is needed, as well as better understanding of their key habitats. However, fishing impacts vary geographically and are difficult to disentangle from other factors that influence targeted fish distributions. We developed a set of fishing effort and habitat layers at high resolution and employed machine learning techniques to create regional-scale seascape models and predictive maps of biomass and body length of targeted reef fishes for the main Hawaiian Islands. Spatial patterns of fishing effort were shown to be highly variable and seascape models indicated a low threshold beyond which targeted fish assemblages were severely impacted. Topographic complexity, exposure, depth, and wave power were identified as key habitat variables that influenced targeted fish distributions and defined productive habitats for reef fisheries. High targeted reef fish biomass and body length were found in areas not easily accessed by humans, while model predictions when fishing effort was set to zero showed these high values to be more widely dispersed among suitable habitats. By comparing current targeted fish distributions with those predicted when fishing effort was removed, areas with high recovery potential on each island were revealed, with average biomass recovery of 517% and mean body length increases of 59% on Oahu, the most heavily fished island. Spatial protection of these areas would aid recovery of nearshore coral reef fisheries.
View details for PubMedID 29421847
Advancing the integration of spatial data to map human and natural drivers on coral reefs
2018; 13 (3): e0189792
A major challenge for coral reef conservation and management is understanding how a wide range of interacting human and natural drivers cumulatively impact and shape these ecosystems. Despite the importance of understanding these interactions, a methodological framework to synthesize spatially explicit data of such drivers is lacking. To fill this gap, we established a transferable data synthesis methodology to integrate spatial data on environmental and anthropogenic drivers of coral reefs, and applied this methodology to a case study location-the Main Hawaiian Islands (MHI). Environmental drivers were derived from time series (2002-2013) of climatological ranges and anomalies of remotely sensed sea surface temperature, chlorophyll-a, irradiance, and wave power. Anthropogenic drivers were characterized using empirically derived and modeled datasets of spatial fisheries catch, sedimentation, nutrient input, new development, habitat modification, and invasive species. Within our case study system, resulting driver maps showed high spatial heterogeneity across the MHI, with anthropogenic drivers generally greatest and most widespread on O'ahu, where 70% of the state's population resides, while sedimentation and nutrients were dominant in less populated islands. Together, the spatial integration of environmental and anthropogenic driver data described here provides a first-ever synthetic approach to visualize how the drivers of coral reef state vary in space and demonstrates a methodological framework for implementation of this approach in other regions of the world. By quantifying and synthesizing spatial drivers of change on coral reefs, we provide an avenue for further research to understand how drivers determine reef diversity and resilience, which can ultimately inform policies to protect coral reefs.
View details for PubMedID 29494613
- Assessment and management of cumulative impacts in California's network of marine protected areas OCEAN & COASTAL MANAGEMENT 2017; 137: 1-11
- Geospatial approaches to support pelagic conservation planning and adaptive management ENDANGERED SPECIES RESEARCH 2016; 30: 1-9
- Habitat-based predictive mapping of rockfish density and biomass off the central California coast MARINE ECOLOGY PROGRESS SERIES 2015; 540: 235-250
- OCEANS. Managing mining of the deep seabed. Science 2015; 349 (6244): 144-145
- Coral reef benthic regimes exhibit non-linear threshold responses to natural physical drivers MARINE ECOLOGY PROGRESS SERIES 2015; 522: 33-48
- Identifying multiple coral reef regimes and their drivers across the Hawaiian archipelago PHILOSOPHICAL TRANSACTIONS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B-BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES 2015; 370 (1659)
Fish with chips: tracking reef fish movements to evaluate size and connectivity of Caribbean marine protected areas.
2014; 9 (5)
Coral reefs and associated fish populations have experienced rapid decline in the Caribbean region and marine protected areas (MPAs) have been widely implemented to address this decline. The performance of no-take MPAs (i.e., marine reserves) for protecting and rebuilding fish populations is influenced by the movement of animals within and across their boundaries. Very little is known about Caribbean reef fish movements creating a critical knowledge gap that can impede effective MPA design, performance and evaluation. Using miniature implanted acoustic transmitters and a fixed acoustic receiver array, we address three key questions: How far can reef fish move? Does connectivity exist between adjacent MPAs? Does existing MPA size match the spatial scale of reef fish movements? We show that many reef fishes are capable of traveling far greater distances and in shorter duration than was previously known. Across the Puerto Rican Shelf, more than half of our 163 tagged fish (18 species of 10 families) moved distances greater than 1 km with three fish moving more than 10 km in a single day and a quarter spending time outside of MPAs. We provide direct evidence of ecological connectivity across a network of MPAs, including estimated movements of more than 40 km connecting a nearshore MPA with a shelf-edge spawning aggregation. Most tagged fish showed high fidelity to MPAs, but also spent time outside MPAs, potentially contributing to spillover. Three-quarters of our fish were capable of traveling distances that would take them beyond the protection offered by at least 40-64% of the existing eastern Caribbean MPAs. We recommend that key species movement patterns be used to inform and evaluate MPA functionality and design, particularly size and shape. A re-scaling of our perception of Caribbean reef fish mobility and habitat use is imperative, with important implications for ecology and management effectiveness.
View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0096028
View details for PubMedID 24797815
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4010402
From principles to practice: a spatial approach to systematic conservation planning in the deep sea
PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B-BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES
2013; 280 (1773)
Increases in the demand and price for industrial metals, combined with advances in technological capabilities have now made deep-sea mining more feasible and economically viable. In order to balance economic interests with the conservation of abyssal plain ecosystems, it is becoming increasingly important to develop a systematic approach to spatial management and zoning of the deep sea. Here, we describe an expert-driven systematic conservation planning process applied to inform science-based recommendations to the International Seabed Authority for a system of deep-sea marine protected areas (MPAs) to safeguard biodiversity and ecosystem function in an abyssal Pacific region targeted for nodule mining (e.g. the Clarion-Clipperton fracture zone, CCZ). Our use of geospatial analysis and expert opinion in forming the recommendations allowed us to stratify the proposed network by biophysical gradients, maximize the number of biologically unique seamounts within each subregion, and minimize socioeconomic impacts. The resulting proposal for an MPA network (nine replicate 400 × 400 km MPAs) covers 24% (1 440 000 km(2)) of the total CCZ planning region and serves as example of swift and pre-emptive conservation planning across an unprecedented area in the deep sea. As pressure from resource extraction increases in the future, the scientific guiding principles outlined in this research can serve as a basis for collaborative international approaches to ocean management.
View details for DOI 10.1098/rspb.2013.1684
View details for Web of Science ID 000330325600002
View details for PubMedID 24197407
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3826217