• Variation in size frequency distribution of coral populations under different fishing pressures in two contrasting locations in the Indian Ocean

      Grimsditch, Gabriel; Pisapia, Chiara; Huck, Maren; Karisa, Juliet; Obura, David; Sweet, Michael J.; International Union for the Conservation of Nature; James Cook University; University of Derby; Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute; et al. (Elsevier, 2017-09-23)
      This study aimed to assess how the size-frequency distributions of coral genera varied between reefs under different fishing pressures in two contrasting Indian Ocean locations (the Maldives and East Africa). Using generalized linear mixed models, we were able to demonstrate that complex interactions occurred between coral genera, coral size class and fishing pressure. In both locations, we found Acropora coral species to be more abundant in non-fished compared to fished sites (a pattern which was consistent for nearly all the assessed size classes). Coral genera classified as ‘stress tolerant’ showed a contrasting pattern i.e. were higher in abundance in fished compared to non-fished sites. Site specific variations were also observed. For example, Maldivian reefs exhibited a significantly higher abundance in all size classes of ‘competitive’ corals compared to East Africa. This possibly indicates that East African reefs have already been subjected to higher levels of stress and are therefore less suitable environments for ‘competitive’ corals. This study also highlights the potential structure and composition of reefs under future degradation scenarios, for example with a loss of Acropora corals and an increase in dominance of ‘stress tolerant’ and ‘generalist’ coral genera.