Spatial Variation in the Functional Characteristics of Herbivorous Fish Communities and the Resilience of Coral Reefs

This study explores the importance of herbivore functional roles and their diversity and abundance when predicting coral reef resilience to undesirable phase-shifts to algal-dominated reefs. Authors looked at reef slopes on 92 reefs through the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Results showed 11 reefs resisted phase shifts after disturbance, however without high herbivore function. This data suggests other environmental factors may compensate for herbivores that enhance reef resilience, specifically including water clarity and quality. Authors of this study argue spatially explicit strategies should consider both the functional characteristics of local herbivore communities and environmental factors in order to create lower resilience thresholds

Author: Cheal, A. J., M. Emslie, M.A. MacNeil, I. Miller, and H. Sweatman
Year: 2013
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Ecological Applications 23(1): 174–188

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