Using a meta-analysis of monitoring data to determine the effects of bleaching on reef inhabitants

Neely, K.L. . 2005. Using a meta-analysis of monitoring data to determine the effects of bleaching on reef inhabitants.

ASLO Conference Proceedings, Spain, June 2005.

Though declines in coral health have been documented worldwide, the effects of this decline on reef inhabitants are poorly studied. Studies monitoring fish abundances through coral declines are often inconclusive or contradictory in their results. This study uses fish assemblage data from REEF's database, as well as bleaching data compiled by ReefBase and reef health data collected by Reef Check, to correlate reef inhabitant abundance with bleaching events. Data are analyzed with respect to species, reef location, bleaching severity, and recovery time. Preliminary results show that the majority of species do not change in abundance following a bleaching event. Of those that do change, both increases and decreases are seen, and the direction of change, even within a single species, is often dependent on the time since the event. This suggests that a local decline in coral health may not have an immediate negative impact on the community and that a window of opportunity to preserve community structure following coral mortality may exist. This work was presented at the Summer 2006 International American Society of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO) meeting in Spain.

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