Marine Protected Areas for Controlling Invasive Species

Robert Toonen, Carl Meyer, Alan Friedlander, Kostantinos Stamoulis, Iria Fernandez Silva


Background and overview:

Blooms of nonindigenous marine algae have become common in the Hawaiian Islands over the last several decades. On reefs subjected to anthropogenic disturbances, high algal growth rates may result in overgrowth of corals and other benthic invertebrates. Herbivorous fishes have been severely overfished in Hawai’i which has been thought to contribute to the increase in macroalgae.

Inv_algae_proj_map

We used a three pronged approach to test the hypothesis that Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) will be more resistant to alien algal invasion owing to a higher biomass
of herbivorous fishes.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Methods:

We conducted ecological surveys of fish and
benthos at the Hawai‘i Marine Laboratory Refuge in
Kāne‘ohe Bay and on adjacent patch reefs open to fishing
over a two year time period. Simultaneously, we used
acoustic telemetry to examine movements of herbivorous
fishes captured in the reserve and applied next-generation
sequencing to analyze their fecal samples.IMG_0627

Results:

The ecological surveys indicated significantly higher herbivore biomass in the MPA compared with outside, while invasive algal cover was significantly
lower. Acoustic data showed that herbivorous fish movements were confined to the MPA and fecal analysis indicated presence of invasive algae, suggestive of MPA resistance to invasive algae invasion.Herb_biomass

For more information contact Kostantinos Stamoulis (kostanti@hawaii.edu)

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