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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 401:295-302 (2010)  -  DOI:

Use of clove oil in collecting coral reef fishes for research

D. R. Robertson1,*, W. F. Smith-Vaniz2

1Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Balboa, Republic of Panamá
2Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611, USA

ABSTRACT: Managers need accurate and relevant information about potential adverse environmental effects of scientific collecting when considering research proposals and permits. Clove oil has recently come into use in scientific fish-collecting. While several short-term experimental studies on clove oil’s effects on corals have found negative effects, these were in response to heavier dosages than are typically used by researchers to collect fishes. Thus, the available evidence suggests that the small amounts of this oil that are normally applied during such collections rarely visibly stress corals. Experiments are needed to test for negative effects of actual scientific collecting with clove oil to clarify the real-world consequences of its use on coral survivorship, growth and reproduction at ecologically significant scales. When managers are assessing proposals for research that requires collecting fish, they should place the attendant environmental costs in perspective, and weight them against the relative value of the potential research results. Coral reefs occupy enormous areas of the tropics, and corals are also common in other habitats. Coral populations are often highly dynamic, possess strong powers of regeneration, and recover from repeated effects of temporary, large-scale natural events (hurricanes, floods, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis). The relatively small numbers of researchers collecting reef fishes with clove oil do so only intermittently, in areas of a few m2 per project, and at sites that are widely dispersed throughout the tropics. Any negative effects of such tiny, brief, scattered collections are inconsequential relative to the effects of acute and chronic large-scale natural and human-induced stresses on coral populations, and to the regenerative capabilities of corals.

KEY WORDS: Clove oil · Anesthetic · Coral reef fishes · Collecting · Management

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Cite this article as: Robertson DR, Smith-Vaniz WF (2010) Use of clove oil in collecting coral reef fishes for research. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 401:295-302.

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