Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

How Marine Reserves Are Giving Coral Reefs A Helping Hand

Date:
January 8, 2006
Source:
University of Exeter
Summary:
It may be no surprise that marine reserves protect the fish that live in them, but now scientists from the University of Exeter have shown for the first time that they could also help improve the health of coral reefs. In a paper in the prestigious journal Science, Dr Peter Mumby and colleagues looked at how a marine park in the Bahamas was affected by the return of the reef's top predator, the Nassau Grouper.

Nassau grouper being cleaned.
Credit: (c) Dr. Peter J Mumby, University of Exeter

It may be no surprise that marine reserves protect the fish that live in them, but now scientists from the University of Exeter have shown for the first time that they could also help improve the health of coral reefs.

In a paper in the prestigious journal Science, Dr Peter Mumby and colleagues looked at how a marine park in the Bahamas was affected by the return of the reef's top predator, the Nassau Grouper. Researchers were concerned that an increase in groupers could have an adverse effect, because they feed on parrotfish which play a vital role in maintaining the reef ecosystem.

Dr Peter Mumby, from the School of Biosciences at the University of Exeter, said: "While an increasing number of larger predators is essentially good news we had concerns that this might result in a decrease in the numbers of parrotfish, which could ultimately damage the health of the reef. More than 20 years ago sea urchins in the Caribbean were wiped out by disease, leaving parrotfish as the main grazer of reef surfaces. The fish use their teeth to remove seaweed from the reef which allows new corals to settle and grow.This grazing process is essential to the health of the system."

"Caribbean reefs are still trying to recover from the devastating effects of an El Nino bleaching event in 1998 which caused widespread damage to coral around the world.

What we have found is that marine reserves might provide exactly the right conditions to allow this to happen. Interestingly, once parrotfish reach a length of around 28 cm, they become too big for even the largest grouper to swallow. This 'escape' from a risk of predation means that most reserves are unlikely to reduce the amount of grazing even after the number of predators rises."

Peter added, "Diving in the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park was fun because a large number of sharks turned up to watch us work. Sharks have been heavily fished on most coral reefs so it's always a thrill to visit one of their sanctuaries."

###

Collaborators - Dr Fiorenza Micheli (Stanford University, USA), Dr Craig Dahlgren (Perry Institute for Marine Science, Bahamas), Dr Dan Brumbaugh (American Museum of Natural History, USA), Dr James Sanchirico (Resources for the Future, USA), Dr Kenny Broad (University of Miami, USA) and Dr Judith Mendes (University of the West Indies, Jamaica).


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Exeter. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Exeter. "How Marine Reserves Are Giving Coral Reefs A Helping Hand." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 January 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/01/060106131757.htm>.
University of Exeter. (2006, January 8). How Marine Reserves Are Giving Coral Reefs A Helping Hand. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/01/060106131757.htm
University of Exeter. "How Marine Reserves Are Giving Coral Reefs A Helping Hand." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/01/060106131757.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How to Make Single Serving Smoothies: Howdini Hacks

How to Make Single Serving Smoothies: Howdini Hacks

Howdini (July 24, 2014) Smoothies are a great way to get in lots of healthy ingredients, plus they taste great! Howdini has a trick for making the perfect single-size smoothie that will save you time on cleanup too! All you need is a blender and a mason jar. Video provided by Howdini
Powered by NewsLook.com
Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Reuters - US Online Video (July 24, 2014) An 8-year-old boy is bitten in the leg by a shark while vacationing at a Florida beach. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tyrannosaur Pack-Hunting Theory Aided By New Footprints

Tyrannosaur Pack-Hunting Theory Aided By New Footprints

Newsy (July 24, 2014) A new study claims a set of prehistoric T-Rex footprints supports the theory that the giant predators hunted in packs instead of alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins