[Coral-List] streaming talk on overfishing of Caribbean reefs

Bruno, John jbruno at unc.edu
Tue Nov 11 17:49:21 EST 2014

Please join a streaming talk beginning at 1:00 pm Wednesday, November 12, 2014 by my PhD student Abel Valdivia here:  http://www.ustream.tv/channel/bruno-lab

The talk will also be live tweeted here @UNdertheCblog

Abel will present his data on overfishing on Caibbean reefs (from 39 sites, 5 countries) and an estimation of baseline fish biomass that suggests 80-95% loss in most locations.  Yes, more gloom and doom.  But at least we have a quantitative management target!  And the ability to estimate site specific fish carrying capacity (or baseline biomass).  Also, his work does indicate that many fully protected reserves do effectively increase fish biomass..  So there is that.

Abel immigrated to the US from Cuba 10 years ago and worked with NOAA (w Margaret Miller and others) and elsewhere, before he came to Chapel Hill for his PhD.

Hope to see you there!



Doctoral Dissertation Defense

Fish Assemblages of Caribbean Coral Reefs: Effects of Overfishing on Coral Communities under Climate Change

Abel Valdivia

Coral reefs have declined worldwide due to overfishing, pollution, and global warming. The recovery of this ecosystem depends on how local stressors and environmental variability interact with climate change to affect the outcomes of conservation strategies. My dissertation research evaluates the effects of overfishing on coral reefs under local and global stressors. First, I reconstructed natural baselines of predatory reef fish biomass in the absence of fishing accounting for environmental variability across Caribbean reefs, and found declines of 80-95% in most areas. Second, I examined the effect of current native predatory reef fishes on the invasion of Pacific lionfish across this region. Native predators and lionfish abundance were not related, even when predatory capacity was relative high. Third, by comparing Caribbean and Pacific coral reefs, I evaluated whether reef fish assemblages, especially herbivorous fishes, facilitate coral resilience after a history of recent warming. Contemporary coral communities were unrelated to the abundance of herbivorous fishes or competitive macroalgae across geographical scales. Finally, I suggest that recent warming has promoted a shift towards thermally-tolerant coral species in the Caribbean. This work highlights the complex interactions among functional groups in coral reefs, human stressors, and environmental variability, and provides novel insights to reevaluate management actions for this ecosystem in a changing world.

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