Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Bright spots for the future of coral reefs: New insights into fish biomass on coral reefs

16.06.2016

International team of researchers studies 2,500 tropical coral reefs in 46 countries / New approaches for the conservation of coral reefs / Bremen scientist Dr. Sebastian Ferse is co-author of the study in “Nature”

Coral reefs are a food source for millions of people in the tropics, but many do not deliver the expected catch any more. What influences fish abundance in these environments? An international team of 39 researchers explored this question on 2,500 reefs in 46 countries and collected a tremendous amount of data.


Fisher in Manus (Papua Neuguinea) – one of 2,500 locations of the “Nature” study

Dr. Sebastian Ferse

The results of the international study headed by lead author Prof. Josh Cinner from James Cook University in Australia could now form the basis for new approaches to conservation. The study has been published this week in the renowned journal “Nature” – coinciding with the start of the world’s largest international coral reef conference ICRS (June 19 to 24) in Hawaii. Dr. Sebastian Ferse from the Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology in Bremen is one of the co-authors of the study.

Inefficient fisheries management and good access to the nearest markets – these are some of the main factors for overfishing in reefs. The “Nature” study shows that some reefs still have unexpectedly high fish abundance despite these conditions.

The scientists set more than 6000 transects on coral reefs around the equator. “Certain parts of the reefs are marked using a line and the number and species of fish are then being documented in this marked area,” explains Dr. Sebastian Ferse. He studied reefs in North Sulawesi in Indonesia, which are among the most species-rich on the planet. The observations focused on species directly dependent on the reefs, among them economically valuable fishes such as wrasses, groupers or parrotfish.

In addition the researchers collected a wide range of data on environmental conditions, fisheries management and socio-economic conditions at the studied coastal sites. The statistical analysis showed that the fish biomass on most reefs could be explained as a result of the considered factors: Size and accessibility of the nearest fish market, transport infrastructure, compliance with management rules and the local reef habitat had a strong influence on the biomass of reef fish.

“Roughly six per cent of the reefs were outliers and had a significantly higher or lower fish biomass than expected. Some reefs in almost pristine areas performed worse than others with high population density and fisheries. These were exciting findings, and began to look into the reasons for these deviations,” reports Dr. Ferse.

“We were particularly interested in these bright spots with more fish than expected based on their exposure to pressures like human population, poverty, and unfavourable environmental conditions, “ says Prof. Josh Cinner from James Cook University in Australian and lead author of the study. “To be clear, bright spots are not necessarily pristine reefs, but rather reefs that have more fish than they should have, given the pressures they face.” Among those locations were sites in the Solomon Islands, parts of Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Kiribati.

The locations with more fish biomass than expected were characterized for example by an involvement of the coastal population in fisheries management, or where centuries-old fishery traditions with rules and restrictions had still been established.

Locations that positively stood out also were places where people are highly dependent on marine resources and are lacking alternative sources of income. In those areas there is a great necessity for a sustainable use of reef resources

Dr. Ferse says: “These exceptional cases provide a good basis for us to study how coastal communities have managed to keep their reefs in an unexpectedly good shape, thus going against the global trend.”

In contrast, the locations with significantly lower fish biomass than expected were characterized by environmental pressures such as storms or coral bleaching, and in particular by technological improvements in fisheries, transport or refrigeration.

“The classical technical measures of fisheries management therefore run the risk of being traps leading to overexploitation of resources. Alternative approaches of fisheries management that include local populations should be considered instead”, says Dr. Ferse. “Tropical coral reefs are highly complex systems which react very sensitively to changes in their environments. Any type of protection or management must be based on an exact analysis of the local conditions.”

“We believe that our results can show and offer solutions for the conservation of coral reef fisheries,” explains Prof. Josh Cinner. “Specifically, investments that foster local involvement and provide people with ownership rights can allow people to develop creative solutions that help defy expectations of reef fisheries depletion.”

The study has been published in internationally renowned journal “Nature” on June 15, 2016. It can be found here: <www. dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature18607>

Images:
1) Photo attachment:
Caption: Fisher in Manus (Papua Neuguinea) – one of 2,500 locations of the “Nature” study; Copyright: Dr. Sebastian Ferse.

2) More images for download at: http://www.bit.ly/25Qrvgo
Pictures are provided for one-time use only in conjunction with this press release. They are not available for re-use or archiving. Please credit photographer as named in captions.

Contact:
Dr. Sebastian Ferse
Leibniz-Zentrum für Marine Tropenökologie
E-Mail: sebastian.ferse@leibniz-zmt.de
Tel: +49 (0)421 23 800 28
Mobil: +49 (0)1577 237 9259

Andrea Daschner
Communication Department
E-Mail: andrea.daschner@leibniz-zmt.de
Tel: +49 (0)421 23 800 72

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature18607

Andrea Daschner | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Scientists uncover the role of a protein in production & survival of myelin-forming cells
19.07.2018 | Advanced Science Research Center, GC/CUNY

nachricht NYSCF researchers develop novel bioengineering technique for personalized bone grafts
18.07.2018 | New York Stem Cell Foundation

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Future electronic components to be printed like newspapers

A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.

The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A smart safe rechargeable zinc ion battery based on sol-gel transition electrolytes

20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Reversing cause and effect is no trouble for quantum computers

20.07.2018 | Information Technology

Princeton-UPenn research team finds physics treasure hidden in a wallpaper pattern

20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>