Trophic cascade facilitates coral recruitment in a marine reserve

Mumby, Peter J., Harborne, Alastair R., Williams, Jodene, Kappel, Carrie V., Brumbaugh, Daniel R., Micheli, Fiorenza, Holmes, Katherine E., Dahlgren, Craig P. and Blackwell, Claire B. (2007) Trophic cascade facilitates coral recruitment in a marine reserve. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 104 20: 8362-8367. doi:10.1073/pnas.0702602104

Author Mumby, Peter J.
Harborne, Alastair R.
Williams, Jodene
Kappel, Carrie V.
Brumbaugh, Daniel R.
Micheli, Fiorenza
Holmes, Katherine E.
Dahlgren, Craig P.
Blackwell, Claire B.
Title Trophic cascade facilitates coral recruitment in a marine reserve
Journal name Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0027-8424
Publication date 2007-05-15
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1073/pnas.0702602104
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 104
Issue 20
Start page 8362
End page 8367
Total pages 6
Place of publication Washington, DC, United States
Publisher National Academy of Sciences
Language eng
Abstract Reduced fishing pressure and weak predator–prey interactions within marine reserves can create trophic cascades that increase the number of grazing fishes and reduce the coverage of macroalgae on coral reefs. Here, we show that the impacts of reserves extend beyond trophic cascades and enhance the process of coral recruitment. Increased fish grazing, primarily driven by reduced fishing, was strongly negatively correlated with macroalgal cover and resulted in a 2-fold increase in the density of coral recruits within a Bahamian reef system. Our conclusions are robust because four alternative hypotheses that may generate a spurious correlation between grazing and coral recruitment were tested and rejected. Grazing appears to influence the density and community structure of coral recruits, but no detectable influence was found on the overall size-frequency distribution, community structure, or cover of corals. We interpret this absence of pattern in the adult coral community as symptomatic of the impact of a recent disturbance event that masks the recovery trajectories of individual reefs. Marine reserves are not a panacea for conservation but can facilitate the recovery of corals from disturbance and may help sustain the biodiversity of organisms that depend on a complex three-dimensional coral habitat.
Keyword Biodiversity
Coral reef
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: School of Biological Sciences Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 178 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Tue, 23 Nov 2010, 14:38:06 EST