eCite Digital Repository

Limited evidence for ecosystem-level change on reefs exposed to Haliotis rubra ('blacklip abalone') exploitation


Valentine, JP and Tarbath, DB and Frusher, SD and Mundy, CN and Buxton, CD, Limited evidence for ecosystem-level change on reefs exposed to Haliotis rubra ('blacklip abalone') exploitation, Austral Ecology, 35, (7) pp. 806-817. ISSN 1442-9985 (2010) [Refereed Article]

Not available

Copyright Statement

The definitive published version is available online at:

Official URL:

DOI: doi:10.1111/j.1442-9993.2009.02088.x


It is increasingly recognized that fisheries must take the broader ecosystem into account for sustainable management of marine systems, requiring an understanding of the interaction between fished species and other organisms. This study uses a correlative approach to investigate potential interactions between benthic organisms and Haliotis rubra, a dominant herbivore that is the subject of a large and valuable commercial fishery in south-eastern Australia. Specific emphasis was placed on understanding associations between H. rubra and understorey organisms, because particular understorey algae (crustose coralline algae) provide critical habitat for H. rubra larval recruitment and juvenile ecology. Broad-scale surveys along the 6–8 m depth contour (the depth range where H. rubra fishing activity is intense) were conducted across four regions (separated by 104-105 m),including at least 10 sites (separated by 102-103 m) within each region. Positive correlations between H. rubra and crustose coralline algae were found, while negative correlations were observed between H. rubra and sessile invertebrates and understorey algae. While significant, these associations were weak and H. rubra abundance generally only explained a small proportion of the variability in the abundance of understorey organisms (r2 0.02–0.30). H. rubra abundance also had a minor influence on community-level understorey patterns in comparison with differences in community structure attributable to regional variation. Patterns of H. rubra abundance and benthic community structure were also examined in relation to depth at a restricted number of sites. At sites where differences in understorey groups were evident, H. rubra abundance also varied significantly, highlighting the issue of confounding when contrasting patterns of understorey abundance using a correlative approach. Further manipulative experiments are required to confirm causal relationships; however, the available correlative evidence suggests limited ecosystem effects of H. rubra depletion at the scale of individual reefs.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:abalone,correlation,crustose coralline algae,ecosystem management,understorey
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Environmental management
Research Field:Environmental management
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Assessment and management of terrestrial ecosystems
UTAS Author:Valentine, JP (Dr Joseph Valentine)
UTAS Author:Tarbath, DB (Mr David Tarbath)
UTAS Author:Frusher, SD (Professor Stewart Frusher)
UTAS Author:Mundy, CN (Dr Craig Mundy)
UTAS Author:Buxton, CD (Professor Colin Buxton)
ID Code:66520
Year Published:2010
Web of Science® Times Cited:7
Deposited By:TAFI - Marine Research Laboratory
Deposited On:2011-02-01
Last Modified:2011-03-22

Repository Staff Only: item control page