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Mangroves enhance the biomass of coral reef fish communities in the Caribbean

Mumby, P.J., Edwards, A.J., Arias-Gonzalez, J.E., Lindeman, K.C., Blackwell, P.G., Gall, A., Gorczynska, M.I., Harborne, A.R., Pescod, C.L., Renken, H., Wabnitz, C.C.C. and Llewellyn, G. (2004) Mangroves enhance the biomass of coral reef fish communities in the Caribbean. Nature, 427 (6974). pp. 533-536. ISSN 0028-0836

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Abstract

Mangrove forests are one of the world's most threatened tropical ecosystems with global loss exceeding 35% (ref. 1). Juvenile coral reef fish often inhabit mangroves, but the importance of these nurseries to reef fish population dynamics has not been quantified. Indeed, mangroves might be expected to have negligible influence on reef fish communities: juvenile fish can inhabit alternative habitats and fish populations may be regulated by other limiting factors such as larval supply or fishing. Here we show that mangroves are unexpectedly important, serving as an intermediate nursery habitat that may increase the survivorship of young fish. Mangroves in the Caribbean strongly influence the community structure of fish on neighbouring coral reefs. In addition, the biomass of several commercially important species is more than doubled when adult habitat is connected to mangroves. The largest herbivorous fish in the Atlantic, Scarus guacamaia, has a functional dependency on mangroves and has suffered local extinction after mangrove removal. Current rates of mangrove deforestation are likely to have severe deleterious consequences for the ecosystem function, fisheries productivity and resilience of reefs. Conservation efforts should protect connected corridors of mangroves, seagrass beds and coral reefs.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: © 2004 Nature Publishing Group
Institution: The University of Sheffield
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Science (Sheffield) > School of Mathematics and Statistics (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Repository Officer
Date Deposited: 20 Sep 2004
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2014 16:34
Published Version: http://www.nature.com/nature
Status: Published
Refereed: Yes
Identification Number: 10.1038/nature02286
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/105

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