[Coral-List] declines in Caribbean coral reef accretion rates driven by loss of parrotfish

Katie Cramer katie.cramer at gmail.com
Wed Jan 25 22:14:55 EST 2017

Dear Colleagues,

We would like to make you aware of our study that reveals that the loss of
parrotfish caused a decline in the growth of Caribbean reefs over the past
3,000 years. Our open-access paper "Prehistorical and historical declines
in Caribbean coral reef accretion rates driven by loss of parrotfish" is
available at Nature Communications: http://www.nature.com/

Here is a news story summarizing the study:

Caribbean coral reefs have transformed into algal-dominated habitats over
recent decades, but the mechanisms of change are unresolved due to a lack
of quantitative ecological data before large-scale human impacts. To
understand the role of reduced herbivory in recent coral declines, we
produce a high-resolution 3,000 year record of reef accretion rate and
herbivore (parrotfish and urchin) abundance from the analysis of sediments
and fish, coral and urchin subfossils within cores from Caribbean Panama.
At each site, declines in accretion rates and
parrotfish abundance were initiated in the prehistorical or historical
period. Statistical tests of direct cause and effect relationships using
convergent cross mapping reveal that accretion rates are driven by
parrotfish abundance (but not vice versa) but are not affected by total
urchin abundance. These results confirm the critical role of parrotfish in
maintaining coral dominated reef habitat and the urgent need for
restoration of parrotfish populations to enable reef persistence.



Katie Cramer
Postdoctoral Scholar
Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD

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