Effects of Marine Reserves on Populations of Herbivorous and Piscivorous Fisheson the Great Barrier Reef Public

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/honors_college_theses/br86b5539

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  • he Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is widely known as one of the best-managed marine protected areas in the world. The park is divided into different management zones, the most prevalent of which are marine national park zones, which are designated as no-take, and conservation zones in which some regulated fishing is permitted. I investigated the relationship between zoning designation and fish population metrics, specifically fish abundance by trophic guild in adjacent park and conservation zones in Opal Reef, Port Douglas, Australia. These areas have been designated as no-take and fishery regulated zones since 2004. From May 2011 to July 2011, underwater visual transect surveys were conducted by seven different school groups (n=7 samples) to obtain counts for several different fish families from multiple trophic levels, classified by feeding guild, at one site in the reserve and one site in the MPA. There were significantly higher counts of grouper and significantly lower numbers of butterflyfish in the no-take zones relative to the limited-fishing zones. These findings are consistent with the effects of a top-down trophic cascade in which an increase in the abundance of top predators (grouper), in this case caused by a release from fishing mortality in the no-take zone, results in a decrease in the abundance of their potential prey (butterflyfishes). These findings suggest that managers should continue to implement management strategies like marine reserves, because they have beneficial effects on entire ecosystems rather than just a single species. Involving student groups in the research process helped to raise awareness about reef degradation and management.
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