Human, Oceanographic and Habitat Drivers of Central and Western Pacific Coral Reef Fish Assemblages
In this study, staff of NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center and colleagues examine the relative influence of multiple human, oceanographic and environmental factors on coral reef fish biomass at nearly 40 US and US-affiliated Pacific islands and atolls. Biological data comes from consistent large-scale ecosystem monitoring from the Pacific Reef Assessment and Monitoring Program, which is part of NOAA's National Coral Reef Monitoring Program. In total, the survey involves over 2,000 hours of underwater observation by divers at 1,934 sites. Consistent with previous smaller-scale studies, results show sharp declines in reef fish biomass at relatively low human population density, followed by more gradual declines as human population density increased further. Adjusting for other factors, the highest levels of oceanic productivity among study locations were associated with more than double the biomass of reef fishes (including about 4 times the biomass of planktivores and piscivores) compared to islands with lowest oceanic productivity. Results emphasize that coral reef areas do not all have equal ability to sustain large reef fish stocks, and that what is natural varies significantly amongst locations. Comparisons of biomass estimates derived from visual surveys with predicted biomass in the absence of humans indicated that total reef fish biomass was depleted by 61% to 69% at populated islands in the Mariana Archipelago; by 20% to 78% in the Main Hawaiian islands; and by 21% to 56% in American Samoa.
Appearing as solitary forms in the fossil record more than 400 million years ago, corals are extremely ancient animals that evolved into modern reef-building forms over the last 25 million years. Continue Reading →
coral reef conservation program
The NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP) is a partnership between the NOAA Line Offices that work on coral reef issues: the National Ocean Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, and the National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service. The CRCP brings together expertise from across NOAA for a multidisciplinary approach to managing and understanding coral reef ecosystems.
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NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program
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NOAA's Coral Reef Information System
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