Butterflyfish (Family Chaetodontidae) Research and Monitoring

Crosby, Michael MCrosby at usaid.gov
Fri Feb 15 12:42:09 EST 2002


Butterflyfish (Family Chaetodontidae) Research and Monitoring

June 19-20, 2002
Aqaba, Jordan

Marine Science Station (MSS) – University of Jordan/Yarmouk University
        Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA)
        National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Dr. Maroof Khalaf – MSS [maroof at ju.edu.jo]
Dr. Michael P. Crosby - NOAA [mcrosby at usaid.gov  or
michael.crosby at noaa.gov]


Butterflyfish (Family Chaetodontidae) serve as the focal point for many
coral reef research and monitoring efforts through the Indo-Pacific, in
general, and the Middle East region, more specifically.  However, despite
many informal discussions amongst leading butterflyfish researchers that
have identified the value in organizing a formal science symposium on the
state of research and monitoring of fishes of the family Chaetodontidae,
there has never been such a symposium held at an international level.
The MSS, ASEZA and NOAA are partnering together to sponsor this Regional
Science Symposium and Workshop to:

a) develop a scientific consensus on the state of knowledge dealing with
butterflyfish in Middle East coral reef ecosystems,

b) share experiences and insights between and amongst Middle East
scientists, and colleagues from throughout the Indo-Pacific, regarding the
use of butterflyfish as indicators of ecological conditions (“health”) of
coral reefs, and possibly by extension global climate change,

c) identify priorities for future local and regionally based butterflyfish
research and monitoring, and

d) discuss the potential for developing a regional butterflyfish
monitoring database that would serve as a focal point for examining local
and regional trends for changes in coral reefs.


In order to ensure that the stated purposes of this Regional Science
Symposium and Workshop are addressed, participation level will be limited
to no more than 35 individuals.  Priority will be given to resident
scientists and students in Middle East countries who are conducting
research and monitoring on butterflyfish.  A limited number of invited
scientists from throughout the broader Indo-Pacific region will also
participate in order to share information, methodologies, experiences and
perspectives.  The sponsors are able to provide a limited level of travel
assistance to ensure the participation of at least 1-2 key researchers
from each interested Middle East country.


It is envisioned that this two-day event will include two keynote
addresses – one on the background and history of the importance of
studying butterflyfish, in particular, and the other on indicator species
concept, in general.  Participants will also have the opportunity to make
formal presentations (standard 15 minute format with 5 minute question
period) on the state of butterflyfish research and monitoring in their
countries.  There will also be small group workshop discussions on topics
such as standardizing methodologies, future research and monitoring
priorities and potential development of a regional butterflyfish database.
A final product of the symposium and workshop will be the publication of a
peer-reviewed “proceedings” document containing full-length manuscripts of
all symposium presentations and workshop recommendations.


The concept of using one or a small group of species to indicate changing
conditions of a coral reef community or ecosystem is not new.  Fish
assemblages may be used as indicators of environmental degradation.
Important criteria for a useful bio-indicator are, not only that it is
closely associated with a particular ecosystem, but that the species
should be relatively abundant, easily observed and quantified, long lived
and strongly site attached to the particular environment.  Obligate coral
feeding butterflyfishes of the Family Chaetodontidae are excellent
candidates as bio-indicators of Middle East and Indo-Pacific coral reefs.

The butterflyfish indicator species approach was originally designed for
elucidating subtle, sub-lethal changes due to chronic, low levels of
disturbances which are often more difficult, costly and time consuming to
detect using conventional monitoring methods.  However, the method is also
useful for detecting improvement (from an anthropocentric perspective) of
ecological conditions on the reef due to the gradual reduction in the
levels of disturbance leading to the eventual recovery and natural
restoration of the reef.  The method is ideally suited when an early
warning of sub-lethal change helps the assessment process leading to
management decisions.  Due to its “low technology” approach, the
butterflyfish indicator method also has the advantage of a high
benefit-to-cost ratio.

The Middle East Regional Science Symposium and Workshop: Butterflyfish
(Family Chaetodontidae)  Research and Monitoring is the first step for
attempting to coordinate and link various butterflyfish projects in the
Middle East with other similar efforts that are underway, planned or
completed in the region.  The involvement a key scientist from throughout
the broader Indo-Pacific region will also facilitate the creation of an
international “virtual” transect running from the Gulf of Aqaba/Red Sea to
Eritrea/South Africa and across the Indian Ocean to various Pacific
Islands.  This will provide large spatial scale baseline data for future
generations regarding changes in the conditions of the world’s coral
reefs.  A great deal of data already exists in local areas along this
virtual transect.  For example, the butterflyfish indicator technique of
Crosby and Reese (1996) are already in use in Hawaii, Saipan, Guam and
American Samoa.  The method, in varying forms, has been employed in the
Bunaken Marine Park, North Sulawesi, Indonesia since 1998 (pers. com.,
Massimo Boyer), elsewhere in Indonesia (Bawole and Boli, 2000; U.
Killguss, pers. com.), Australia (Berumen and Pratchett, 2000; Pratchett
2000), Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Indian Ocean (R. Jeyabhaskaran, pers.
com.), Seychelles and South Africa (Samways et al., in press), Eritrea
(Zekeria and Videler, 2000), Saudi Arabia (Joseph 2000) and the Gulf of
Aqaba (Khalaf and Crosby, in prep.; Crosby et al., in prep).


Individuals interested in receiving an invitation to participate in this
symposium are encouraged to provide a short statement of their pertinent
research and monitoring activities and institutional affiliation to Dr.
M.P. Crosby (michael.crosby at noaa.gov or mcrosby at usaid.gov) as soon as
possible. 1st Announcement – February 15, 2002

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