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Intensive fishing of marine consumers causes a dramatic shift in the benthic habitat on temperate rocky reefs
Strain, E.M.A.; Johnson, C.R. (2012). Intensive fishing of marine consumers causes a dramatic shift in the benthic habitat on temperate rocky reefs. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 159(3): 533-547. hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s00227-011-1833-1
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keyword
    Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Strain, E.M.A.
  • Johnson, C.R.

Abstract
    Intensive fishing can cause dramatic, long-lasting shifts in benthic habitat. This study used three approaches to test whether overharvesting of blacklip abalone (Haliotis rubra) can cause a shift in benthic habitat to a configuration that is unsuitable for abalone, on the east coast of Tasmania, Australia. After 18 months of removing abalone from rocks, encrusting red algae (ERA) became overgrown by filamentous and foliose algae, sessile invertebrates and accumulated sediment. The differences in the community composition between locations, sites nested within locations and rocks were minor. Throughout the study, abalone were largely associated with areas of rock covered in ERA but avoided other habitats. A transplant experiment demonstrated that abalone preferred areas of rock covered in ERA but move away from overgrown rocks. These results suggest overharvesting of abalone results in a shift to benthic habitat poorly preferred by abalone. This could form a positive feedback loop that limits recovery of abalone populations and ERA.

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