Development of a reef fish biological condition gradient model with quantitative decision rules for the protection and restoration of coral reef ecosystems

Patricia Bradley, Ben Jessup, Simon J. Pittman, Christopher F.G. Jeffrey, Jerald S. Ault, Lisamarie Carrubba, Craig Lilyestrom, Richard S. Appeldoorn, Michelle T. Schärer, Brian K. Walker, Melanie McField, Deborah L. Santavy, Tyler B. Smith, Graciela García-Moliner, Steven G. Smith, Evelyn Huertas, Jeroen Gerritsen, Leah M. Oliver, Christina Horstmann, Susan K. Jackson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Coral reef ecosystems are declining due to multiple interacting stressors. A bioassessment framework focused on stressor-response associations was developed to help organize and communicate complex ecological information to support coral reef conservation. This study applied the Biological Condition Gradient (BCG), initially developed for freshwater ecosystems, to fish assemblages of U.S. Caribbean coral reef ecosystems. The reef fish BCG describes how biological conditions changed incrementally along a gradient of increasing anthropogenic stress. Coupled with physical and chemical water quality data, the BGC forms a scientifically defensible basis to prioritize, protect and restore water bodies containing coral reefs. Through an iterative process, scientists from across the U.S. Caribbean used fishery-independent survey data and expert knowledge to develop quantitative decision rules to describe six levels of coral reef ecosystem condition. The resultant reef fish BCG provides an effective tool for identifying healthy and degraded coral reef ecosystems and has potential for global application.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number111387
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Volume159
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2020

Keywords

  • Biocriteria
  • Biological attributes
  • Sustainability
  • Thresholds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Pollution

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    Bradley, P., Jessup, B., Pittman, S. J., Jeffrey, C. F. G., Ault, J. S., Carrubba, L., Lilyestrom, C., Appeldoorn, R. S., Schärer, M. T., Walker, B. K., McField, M., Santavy, D. L., Smith, T. B., García-Moliner, G., Smith, S. G., Huertas, E., Gerritsen, J., Oliver, L. M., Horstmann, C., & Jackson, S. K. (2020). Development of a reef fish biological condition gradient model with quantitative decision rules for the protection and restoration of coral reef ecosystems. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 159, [111387]. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2020.111387