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:3/24/2017)... The Controller General of Immigration from Maldives Mr. Mohamed Anwar ... prestigious international IAIR Award for the most innovative high security ePassport and ... ... Maldives Immigration Controller General, Mr. Mohamed ... the right) have received the IAIR award for the "Most innovative high ...
(Date:3/22/2017)...   Neurotechnology , a provider of high-precision ... the release of the SentiVeillance 6.0 ... recognition using up to 10 surveillance, security and ... new version uses deep neural-network-based facial detection and ... a Graphing Processing Unit (GPU) for enhanced speed. ...
(Date:3/20/2017)... PMD Healthcare announces the release of its ... System (WMS), a remote, real-time lung health monitoring and ... is a Medical Device, Digital Health, and Chronic Care ... innovative solutions that empower people to improve their healthcare ... developed the first ever personal spirometer, Spiro PD, which ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/20/2017)... ... ... Biologist Dawn Maslar MS has found a biomarker that she claims verifies ... The Neuroscience of Meeting, Dating, Losing Your Mind, and Finding True Love, Maslar found ... step, in my estimation, was to scientifically track the evidence of commitment in men,” ...
(Date:6/20/2017)... ... June 20, 2017 , ... GigaGen Inc ., a ... repertoires, announces launch of its new Surge(TM) Discovery service at the ... GigaGen, will present on Surge at the conference. , Surge is the new, ...
(Date:6/16/2017)... ... 2017 , ... Cognition Corporation , a software company ... of its “From the Helm” Webinar Series. , The next two free ... design control exercises. Led by David Cronin, Cognition’s CEO, the half-hour public webinars ...
(Date:6/15/2017)... ... June 15, 2017 , ... The ... an artist’s journey through creative experimentation and interdisciplinary collaboration. Feature Creep, a solo ... 22nd. An opening reception will be held at EKG, located at 3600 Market ...
Breaking Biology Technology: