Navigation Links
Distressed damsels stress coral reefs
Date:5/26/2010

Damselfish are killing head corals and adding stress to Caribbean coral reefs, which are already in desperately poor condition from global climate change, coral diseases, hurricanes, pollution, and overfishing. Restoring threatened staghorn coral, the damsels' favorite homestead, will take the pressure off the other corals, according to a new study published in the online journal PLoS ONE.

The small, belligerently territorial, threespot damselfish kill portions of coral colonies to grow gardens of algae, which they use as grounds for feeding and nests for breeding. Marine scientists thought that overfishing groupers and snappers in the Caribbean released the threespot damselfish from their predators, allowing them to swarm over the reefs in larger numbers, killing more coral than ever before. That idea is wrong, says author Rich Aronson, a coral reef ecologist at the Florida Institute of Technology.

"Our surveys of reefs around the Caribbean show that the number of predatory fish is not the key to how many damselfish live on a reef," says Aronson. "It's all about real estateplaces to live." Until the 1980s, threespot damselfish tended their gardens in staghorn coral, at the time the most common coral in the Caribbean. Staghorn coral, named for its long, thin branches, grew very fast and could keep ahead of the damselfish onslaught. The threespots preferred staghorn above all other corals for its tangle of branches, which provided ideal places to hide, feed, and nest. Although the threespots bit and killed portions of staghorn colonies, the living branches that remained continued to thrive. But outbreaks of coral diseases, compounded by hurricanes and other environmental insults decimated populations of staghorn coral to the point that it is now listed as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

Coauthor Les Kaufman is a fish biologist with Boston University and Conservation International. He explains, "Once staghorn coral disappeared, the fierce little beasts switched to killing slow-growing coral heads." Coral heads are a lot less desirable from the damsels' point of view because they have fewer hiding places. Unlike staghorn coral, head-corals cannot recover quickly enough to keep pace with the death-bites of threespot damselfish, so the coral heads could take hundreds of years to recover. "Threespot damselfish are limited primarily by habitat, " says Kaufman. "They have not been released by fishing to overpopulate reefs, and if anything they are less abundant now." The fossil record shows that threespots commonly exploited staghorn coral on Caribbean reefs for at least the last 125,000 yearslong before those reefs were fished. Adds Aronson, "Caribbean reefs changed fundamentally when staghorn coral suddenly disappeared after dominating for hundreds of thousands of years. Threespot damselfish are now killing slow-growing coral heads, much moreso than before and regardless of how many predators are around. We strongly advocate conserving fish stocks, but in this case restoring the staghorn populations will be far more effective in fixing the damage."


'/>"/>

Contact: Dr. Richard B. Aronson
raronson@fit.edu
321-674-8034
Florida Institute of Technology
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Children distressed by family fighting have higher stress hormones
2. Study sheds light on how marine animals survive stress
3. Feeling stressed? So is the poplar
4. Resilience factor low in depression, protects mice from stress
5. Feeling stressed? So is the poplar
6. Brain connections for stress -- lessons from the worm
7. Biological link between stress, anxiety and depression identified for the first time
8. New brain nerve cells key to stress resilience, UT Southwestern researchers find
9. Flavonoids in orange juice suppress oxidative stress from high-fat, high-carb meal
10. Researchers look at reducing yield loss for crops under stress
11. Rochester study connects workplace turmoil, stress and obesity
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:11/15/2016)... , Nov 15, 2016 Research and ... Global Forecast to 2021" report to their offering. ... ... USD 16.18 Billion by 2021 from USD 6.21 Billion in 2016, ... Growth of the bioinformatics market is driven by the ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... , June 22, 2016   ... management and verification solutions, has partnered with ... software solutions for Visitor Management, Self-Service Kiosks ... provides products that add functional enhancements to ... provides corporations and venues with an automated ...
(Date:6/15/2016)... June 15, 2016 Transparency ... titled "Gesture Recognition Market by Application Market - Global Industry Analysis ... 2024". According to the report, the  global gesture recognition ... 2015 and is estimated to grow at a ... by 2024.  Increasing application of gesture ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/30/2016)... Nov. 30, 2016 /PRNewswire/ - Portage Biotech Inc. ("Portage" ... PBT.U), is excited to announce the formation of ... developing preclinical ophthalmology assets through proof of concept. ... created by Portage Pharmaceuticals Limited and being developed ... surface and anterior segment diseases. This agent has ...
(Date:11/30/2016)... , Nov. 30, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -  Equicare Health ... solutions, has been recognized as one of the top ... an annual international listing that distinguishes the top digital ... pushed a great step forward this year continually upgrading ... our own customer base and team," says Len ...
(Date:11/30/2016)... Massachusetts , 30. November 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... Technologieunternehmen, hat heute die Unterzeichnung einer Reihe ... Diesen zufolge wird Evotec AG Screeningleistungen für ... shRNA-Bibliotheken bereitstellen. Der Zugriff auf diese Bibliotheken ... Screening eröffnet einen schnelleren Weg zur Ermittlung ...
(Date:11/30/2016)... ... November 30, 2016 , ... SSCI, the established leader in ... implications of the latest FDA guidance on pharmaceutical cocrystals as drug substance . ... MA. , The event follows the successful November 15th event that took ...
Breaking Biology Technology: