Reef Fish Responses to Climate Change

Reef Fish Responses to Climate Change

Project Animal(s) : Reef Fish
Project Category : Fish
Project Region : Asia
Project Type : Research
Project URL : http://ncf-india.org/projects/reef-fish-responses-to-climate-change
Project is timebound? : No

The role of fish communities in mediating reef resilience has long being recognized. Top predators are often ecosystem keystones and their removal can lead to a range of flow-on consequences as the complex network of interactions they maintain unravel. Their loss has been associated with declines of coral and the inability of reefs to recover from occasional disturbances. Additionally, herbivore fish communities are also critical, playing much more direct roles in controlling algal growth in the aftermath of major bleaching events. We have been tracking how fish communities respond to catastrophic coral die-offs in the Lakshadweep since 1998. After the mass bleaching event of 1998, the worst affected reefs saw a major loss of fish species including top predators and coral feeding specialists. In contrast, herbivore fish quickly dominated the community helping maintain reefs relatively free of algae and facilitating a rapid recovery of coral in many reefs. Critically, the reefs of the Lakshadweep, were, until recently not heavily fished, a significant component of the native resilience of this archipelago.

Project Agency : Nature Conservation Foundation

Project Researcher : Rohan Arthur

Project Researcher Contact : [email protected]