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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 580:169-190 (2017)  -  DOI:

Managing coral reef fish community biomass is a priority for biodiversity conservation in Madagascar

Tim R. McClanahan1,*, Catherine Jadot2

1Wildlife Conservation Society, Marine Programs, Bronx, NY 10460, USA
2ES Caribbean, Venice, FL 34293, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Elucidating factors that influence natural resources and diversity can assist managing species and their ecological functions. Key management options include protecting unique locations or implementing restrictions that more broadly protect ecological attributes and their services. To evaluate these 2 options, we examined 23 fish families in 152 unique sites in the Western and Northern Madagascar Ecoregion to test for spatial aggregation, environmental, habitat, and human influences on the fish communities. We found that there were 10 distinct communities of fish and that they were widely distributed in the region. Biomass and diversity were closely associated with the community types and showed weak spatial aggregation and environmental and market influences. Further, fishable biomass was only weakly positively associated with habitat characteristics of depth and soft coral cover and negatively associated with erect algae (R2 = 0.06). Biomass was the strongest predictor of number of species whereas associations with light and hard coral cover were weak and median sea surface temperature (SST) and water depth had the weakest influences (all variable R2 = 0.41). Given the weak spatial aggregation, environmental influences, high spatial and species variability, we suggest that there are few conservation priority locations. Consequently, for ecological representation and function there is a need for broad-scale spatial management that captures this heterogeneity and maintains reef fish biomass. The status of reefs in this ecoregion was fair with ~65% of the study sites having biomass >600 kg ha-1.

KEY WORDS: Sustainability · Priority setting · Biodiversity conservation · Island biogeography · Ecosystem based management · Marine spatial planning · Indian Ocean · Africa

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Cite this article as: McClanahan TR, Jadot C (2017) Managing coral reef fish community biomass is a priority for biodiversity conservation in Madagascar. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 580:169-190.

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