The abundance of herbivorous fish on an inshore Red Sea reef following a mass coral bleaching event

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Environmental Biology of Fishes, ISSN: 0378-1909, Vol: 96, Issue: 9, Page: 1065-1072

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Maha T. Khalil; Jesse E. M. Cochran; Michael L. Berumen
Springer Nature; Springer Verlag
Agricultural and Biological Sciences; Bleaching; Central Red Sea; Herbivory; Parrotfish; Saudi Arabia; Surgeonfish
article description
A healthy herbivore community is critical for the ability of a reef to resist and recover from severe disturbances and to regain lost coral cover (i.e., resilience). The densities of the two major herbivorous fish groups (the family Acanthuridae and scarine labrids) were comparatively studied for an inshore reef that was severely impacted by a mass coral bleaching event in 2010 and an unaffected reef within the same region. Densities were found to be significantly higher on the affected reef, most likely due to the high algal densities on that reef. However, densities of herbivores on both reefs were found to be on average about 1-2 orders of magnitude lower than previously published reports from some Pacific reefs and from Red Sea reefs in the Gulf of Aqaba and only slightly higher than Caribbean reefs. Thus, it is predicted that recovery for this reef and similarly affected reefs may be very slow. The protection of herbivores from overfishing and the introduction of other management strategies that maximize reef resilience in Saudi Arabian waters are highly recommended. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.