WCS 3-Sentence Science

Coral Shape Affects Reef Fish Abundance

December 13, 2019

CREDIT: JULIE LARSEN MAHER/WCS

Each year, Wildlife Conservation Society scientists publish more than 300 peer-reviewed studies and papers. “WCS 3-Sentence Science” is a regular tip-sheet — in bite sized helpings — of some of this published work.

Here we present work by WCS’s Stephanie D’agata on how changes in coral shape impacts the abundance of reef fishes.

  1. Researchers investigated how shifts in the morphological structure of coral assemblages on the Great Barrier Reef affect the abundance of juvenile and adult reef fishes.
  2. They found that changes in coral shape, rather than live coral cover or reef texture, disproportionately affected juvenile reef fishes when compared to adults, and explained more than 20 percent of juvenile decline.
  3. Our findings suggest that continued large‐scale shifts in the relative abundance of morphological groups within coral assemblages are likely to affect population replenishment and dynamics of future reef fish communities.

Study and Journal: “Climate‐driven shift in coral morphological structure predicts decline of juvenile reef fishes” from Global Change Biology
WCS Co-Author(s): Stephanie D’agata, WCS Marine Program

For more information, contact: Stephen Sautner, 718–220–3682, ssautner@wcs.org.

WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature.

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