Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Parrotfish Critical To Coral Reefs: Permanent Damage Likely Unless Urgent Action Taken, Scientists Warn

Date:
November 5, 2007
Source:
University Of Exeter
Summary:
Coral reefs could be damaged beyond repair, unless we change the way we manage the marine environment. New research shows how damaged Caribbean reefs will continue to decline over the next 50 years. Coral reefs conjure up images of rich, colorful ecosystems yet an increasing number of reefs are becoming unhealthy and overrun by seaweed.

Adult male parrotfish. Scientists argue that in order to secure a future for coral reefs, particularly in light of the predicted impact of climate change, parrotfish need to be protected.
Credit: Image courtesy of University Of Exeter

Coral reefs could be damaged beyond repair, unless we change the way we manage the marine environment. New research by the Universities of Exeter and California Davis, published November 1, 2007 in Nature, shows how damaged Caribbean reefs will continue to decline over the next 50 years.

Related Articles


Coral reefs conjure up images of rich, colourful ecosystems yet an increasing number of reefs are becoming unhealthy and overrun by seaweed. The research team wanted to test whether reefs that are overgrown with algae could return to good health if the original causes of the problem, such as fishing or pollution, were addressed. This could mean, for example, reducing fishing or introducing better sewage management. The study revealed that the answer is ‘no’ because coral reefs can become permanently unhealthy.

In the 1980s, reefs in the Caribbean were hit by the devastating impact of the near-extinction of the herbivorous urchin, Diadema antillarum, with devastating results. Along with parrotfish, this grazing urchin kept seaweed levels down, creating space for coral to grow. Parrotfish are now the sole grazers of seaweed on many Caribbean reefs, but fishing has limited their numbers. With insufficient parrotfish grazing, corals are unable to recover after major disturbances like hurricanes and become much less healthy as a result. The team discovered this result by creating and testing a computer model that simulates the effects of many factors on the health of Caribbean reefs.

Professor Peter Mumby of the University of Exeter, lead author on the paper said: “The future of some Caribbean reefs is in the balance and if we carry on the way we are then reefs will change forever. This will be devastating for the Caribbean’s rich marine environment, which is home to a huge range of species as well as being central to the livelihood of millions of people.”

The paper argues that in order to secure a future for coral reefs, particularly in light of the predicted impact of climate change, parrotfish need to be protected. Parrotfish are frequently caught in fish traps that are widely used in the Caribbean, with many ending up on restaurant diners’ plates.

Professor Peter Mumby continued: “The good news is that we can take practical steps to protect parrotfish and help reef regeneration. We recommend a change in policy to establish controls over the use of fish traps, which parrotfish are particularly vulnerable to. We also call on anyone who visits the Caribbean and sees parrotfish on a restaurant menu to voice their concern to the management.”

This research was funded by the US Environmental Protection Agency, the Royal Society, the Natural Environment Research Council and the National Science Foundation.

This research was published in Nature: vol 450, issue 7166.


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. "Parrotfish Critical To Coral Reefs: Permanent Damage Likely Unless Urgent Action Taken, Scientists Warn." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 November 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071031112907.htm>.
University Of Exeter. (2007, November 5). Parrotfish Critical To Coral Reefs: Permanent Damage Likely Unless Urgent Action Taken, Scientists Warn. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 5, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071031112907.htm
University Of Exeter. "Parrotfish Critical To Coral Reefs: Permanent Damage Likely Unless Urgent Action Taken, Scientists Warn." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071031112907.htm (accessed March 5, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Praying Mantis Looks Long Before It Leaps

Praying Mantis Looks Long Before It Leaps

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 5, 2015) — Slowed-down footage of the leaps of praying mantises show the insect&apos;s extraordinary precision, say researchers. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Octopus Grabs Camera and Turns It Around On Photographer

Octopus Grabs Camera and Turns It Around On Photographer

Buzz60 (Mar. 5, 2015) — A photographer got the shot of a lifetime, or rather an octopus did, when it grabbed the camera and turned it around to take an amazing picture of the photographer. Jen Markham (@jenmarkham) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ringling Bros. Eliminating Elephant Acts

Ringling Bros. Eliminating Elephant Acts

AP (Mar. 5, 2015) — The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is ending its iconic elephant acts. The circus&apos; parent company, Feld Entertainment, told the AP exclusively that the acts will be phased out by 2018 over growing public concern about the animals. (March 5) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Tourists Visit Rare Grey Whales in Mexico

Raw: Tourists Visit Rare Grey Whales in Mexico

AP (Mar. 4, 2015) — Once nearly extinct, grey whales now migrate in their thousands to Mexico&apos;s Vizcaino reserve in Baja California, in search of warmer waters to mate and give birth. Tourists flock to the reserve to see the whales, measuring up to 49 feet long. (March 4) Video provided by AP
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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