Weed-eating fish key to reef’s survivalMarch 11th, 2011 - 4:37 pm ICT by IANS
Sydney, March 11 (IANS) Preserving a species of weed-eating fish may be the key to saving the world’s coral reefs from being engulfed by weed as human and climate impacts grow.
A new study by the Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (CoECRS) has found weed-eaters like parrotfish and surgeonfish can only keep coral reefs clear of weed up to a point.
For some years, researchers have pinned their hopes on the ability of weed-eating fish to keep the weeds at bay while the corals recover following a major setback like bleaching, a dump of sediment from the land, or a violent cyclone, the journal Ecology Letters reports.
However, the latest work by Andrew Hoey and David Bellwood at CoECRS and James Cook University shows that once the weeds reach a certain density, the fish no longer control them, and prefer to graze less weedy areas.
“As a result, the whole system tips from being coral-dominated to weed-dominated,” Andrew says, according to a CoECRS statement.
“In countries where people harvest the weed-eating fishes with spearguns, nets and so on, like Fiji, we are seeing a fundamental change in the nature of reefs from coral to weeds,” Andrew says.
“In Australia, where there is much less harvesting of herbivorous fish, the corals are in better shape and bounce back more readily from setbacks.”
“My wife and I must have watched hours and hours of video of fish feeding on weeds and counting the number of bites they took. It’s one of the less glamorous aspects of doing marine science,” Andrews admits with a laugh.
- Weed-eating fish 'vital to coral reefs' survival' - Mar 11, 2011
- Parrotfish play vital role in preserving coral reefs - Dec 12, 2011
- Fish help coral coral reefs recover - Nov 14, 2011
- Seaweeds fast endangering coral reefs - Jan 07, 2010
- Fish make sacrifices to play great dads - Mar 09, 2012
- Fish learn to cope with high CO2 in oceans - Jul 03, 2012
- Fishes become smart enough to evade hunters - Mar 22, 2011
- Fish know to avoid the spearguns - Mar 22, 2011
- Could corals survive more acidic oceans? - Apr 02, 2012
- Excess sediment in waters bad for coral health - Oct 09, 2008
- Coral reefs can recover from devastating effects of global warming - Jan 09, 2010
- Humans increasingly poisoned by reef fish - Sep 11, 2012
- Study finds how sea urchins affect coral reefs' growth - Jan 15, 2011
- Too much sand in water leads to dead corals - Oct 09, 2008
- Warming climate damaging reefs, impacting fish - Jul 11, 2012
Tags: bellwood, centre of excellence, climate impacts, coral reef, coral reefs, corals, ecology letters, fundamental change, glamorous aspects, hoey, james cook university, journal ecology, marine science, parrotfish, reef studies, setbacks, sydney march, weed eaters, weeds, weedy areas