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Moving beyond trophic groups: evaluating fishing-induced changes to temperate reef food webs


Soler, GA and Edgar, GJ and Stuart-Smith, RD and Smith, ADM and Thomson, RJ, Moving beyond trophic groups: evaluating fishing-induced changes to temperate reef food webs, Marine Ecology - Progress Series, 587 pp. 175-186. ISSN 0171-8630 (2018) [Refereed Article]

Available from 25 January 2023

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2018 Inter-Research

DOI: doi:10.3354/meps12433


Fish capture has far-reaching but inadequately assessed implications for marine food webs. At the community level, such effects are typically investigated using dynamic models that rely on partially subjective categorization of species into trophic groups and that mostly overlook the substantial contribution of ontogenetic dietary variation within fish species. Here, we estimate consumption by fish communities at 376 southern Australian sites by applying a recently developed statistical model that predicts diet for individual fish based on their body size and taxonomic identity, with predicted diets then summed to estimate total community consumption. Impacts of fishing and human population density as top-down pressures on shallow reef communities were thereby resolved at fine taxonomic scales. Fishes were estimated to consume 71% more prey biomass in southern Australian no-take marine protected areas (MPAs) relative to fished sites. Consumption of algae and sessile invertebrates was unexpectedly high in MPAs, an outcome not apparent with fish species allocated into pre-defined trophic groups. Extension of this individual size-structured modelling approach provides an opportunity to fill important knowledge gaps in understanding human impacts on marine food webs.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Reef Life Survey, citizen science, consume, model, reef, Australia, fish diets, herbivores, marine protected areas, marine reserves, trophic cascades
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology)
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Assessment and management of terrestrial ecosystems
UTAS Author:Soler, GA (Mr German Soler Alarcon)
UTAS Author:Edgar, GJ (Professor Graham Edgar)
UTAS Author:Stuart-Smith, RD (Dr Rick Stuart-Smith)
ID Code:123830
Year Published:2018
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (LP100200122)
Web of Science® Times Cited:2
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2018-01-30
Last Modified:2018-11-13

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