Assessing change on coral reefs: long-term trends in Caribbean reef fish abundance

Lead Research Organisation: University of East Anglia
Department Name: Biological Sciences


Coral reefs are under threat worldwide from a combination of natural and man-made causes. In the Caribbean, for example, we found that coral cover has declined by 80% over the past three decades, triggering a region-wide shift from coral-dominated to algae-dominated reefs. These habitat changes, combined with fishing pressure, are expected to have had a considerable impact on reef fish communities. The aim of this project is to compile, for the first time, all existing published and unpublished information on reef fish abundance across the Caribbean. Using the same analytical techniques that we used to examine coral cover, a post-doctoral researcher will establish the long-term patterns of change in abundance of reef fish and relate these to changes in habitat and fishing pressure. In addition, the role of marine protected areas in altering the patterns of change in fish abundance, particularly for those species that are not exploited by fisheries, will be examined. This study will yield a unique picture of the large-scale ecological changes that have occurred on Caribbean coral reefs over the past 30 years.


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Description We discovered a range of drivers for changes in coral reef ecological systems.
Exploitation Route By applying the findings to coral reef conservation and understanding
Sectors Environment

Description To focus questions and research onto marine conservation issues, including horizon scanning.
First Year Of Impact 2007
Sector Environment
Impact Types Societal