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Moray eels are more common on coral reefs subject to higher human pressure in the greater Caribbean


Clementi, GM and Bakker, J and Flowers, KI and Postaire, BD and Babcock, EA and Bond, ME and Buddo, D and Cardenosa, D and Currey-Randall, LM and Goetze, JS and Harvey, ES and Heupel, M and Kiszka, JJ and Kyne, F and MacNeil, MA and Meekan, MG and Rees, MJ and Simpfendorfer, CA and Speed, CW and Heithaus, MR and Chapman, DD, Moray eels are more common on coral reefs subject to higher human pressure in the greater Caribbean, iScience, 24, (3) Article 102097. ISSN 2589-0042 (2021) [Refereed Article]

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DOI: doi:10.1016/j.isci. 2021.102097


Proximity and size of the nearest market (‘market gravity’) have been shown to have strong negative effects on coral reef fish communities that can be mitigated by the establishment of closed areas. However, moray eels are functionally unique predators that are generally not subject to targeted fishing and should therefore not directly be affected by these factors. We used baited remote underwater video systems to investigate associations between morays and anthropogenic, habitat, and ecological factors in the Caribbean region. Market gravity had a positive effect on morays, while the opposite pattern was observed in a predator group subject to exploitation (sharks). Environmental DNA analyses corroborated the positive effect of market gravity on morays. We hypothesize that the observed pattern could be the indirect result of the depletion of moray competitors and predators near humans.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:moray eel. environmental science, ecology, biological sciences, zoology, animals, ethology
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology)
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Marine systems and management
Objective Field:Marine biodiversity
UTAS Author:Heupel, M (Dr Michelle Heupel)
ID Code:150337
Year Published:2021
Deposited By:Integrated Marine Observing System
Deposited On:2022-06-08
Last Modified:2022-06-09

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