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Changes in Kenyan coral reef community structure and function due to exploitation
McClanahan, T. R.; Muthiga, N. A. (1988). Changes in Kenyan coral reef community structure and function due to exploitation. Hydrobiologia 166(3): 269-276. dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF00008136
In: Hydrobiologia. Springer: The Hague. ISSN 0018-8158, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keywords
    Diadema savignyi (Audouin, 1809) [WoRMS]; Diadema setosum (Leske, 1778) [WoRMS]; Echinometra mathaei (Blainville, 1825) [WoRMS]; ISW, Kenyan Coast [Marine Regions]; Marine
Author keywords
    coral reefs, overfishing, predation, sea urchins

Authors  Top 
  • McClanahan, T. R.
  • Muthiga, N. A., more

Abstract
    A comparison of Kenyan reefs of different historical and observed levels of fishing exploitation showed that more exploited reef lagoons had greater sea urchin densities and sizes, fewer and smaller fish and less coral cover. In the most exploited lagoon the biomass of the burrowing sea urchin Echinometra mathaei increased fivefold during the previous 15 years. An ecological study of the three most common omnivorous sea urchin species inhabiting hard substrate within these reef lagoons (E. mathaei, Diadema savignyi and D. setosum) suggests that they are ecologically separated by predation and avoid predators and competitors by occupying different size burrows or crevices within the lagoon. Predator removal through fishing activities may result in ecological release of the sea urchins and result in competitive exclusion of weaker competitors. The most exploited reef had a nearly monospecific barren of E. mathaei living outside burrows suggesting that E. mathaei may be the top competitor. Its ecological release appears to lead to a decrease in live coral cover, increased substrate bioerosion and eventually a loss of topographic complexity, species diversity, fish biomass and utilizable fisheries productivity. Data from the outer reef edge were more difficult to interpret but may indicate similar patterns. Within this area, physical stresses such as waves and currents may be a greater controlling force in regulating fishing activities and coral reef community structure.

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