Variable density dependence and the restructuring of coral-reef fisheries across 25 years of exploitation
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Variable density dependence and the restructuring of coral-reef fisheries across 25 years of exploitation

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  • Journal Title:
    Scientific Reports
  • Description:
    Variable density dependence within multispecies fisheries results in species restructuring as exploitation intensifies that is poorly understood. We examined unique species-based records across 25 years of exploitation to evaluate patterns, consequences, and predictions of species replacements within three coral-reef fisheries. Body-size was an expected determinant of species replacements, as larger fishes were consistently replaced by smaller, faster-growing counterparts. However, many species with similar sizes and growth rates responded differently. Naso unicornis, a primary component of coral-reef fisheries across the Pacific, was one of the most resilient species to exploitation despite having a similar maximum size and growth as many large parrotfishes that slowly disappeared from landings. Assessments conducted for all primary target species revealed clear distinctions in compensatory responses: 31% had diminishing size structures, 18% had diminishing proportional contribution, but only 5% showed both. Standard approaches to fisheries management assume constant rates of size-and-age restructuring and rely upon metrics such as fishing-versus-natural mortality. Instead, a deeper appreciation for varying recruitment rates may help to (re) define fisheries management units and reduce complexity in multispecies fisheries. We last consider our results alongside traditional knowledge and management in the Pacific that clearly appreciated species responses, but have been lost over the years.
  • Source:
    Scientific Reports 8 (5725) 
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    CC BY
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