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Macroalgae exhibit diverse responses to human disturbances on coral reefs

Lookup NU author(s): Dr James Guest

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Abstract

© 2023 The Authors. Global Change Biology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.Scientists and managers rely on indicator taxa such as coral and macroalgal cover to evaluate the effects of human disturbance on coral reefs, often assuming a universally positive relationship between local human disturbance and macroalgae. Despite evidence that macroalgae respond to local stressors in diverse ways, there have been few efforts to evaluate relationships between specific macroalgae taxa and local human-driven disturbance. Using genus-level monitoring data from 1205 sites in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, we assess whether macroalgae percent cover correlates with local human disturbance while accounting for factors that could obscure or confound relationships. Assessing macroalgae at genus level revealed that no genera were positively correlated with all human disturbance metrics. Instead, we found relationships between the division or genera of algae and specific human disturbances that were not detectable when pooling taxa into a single functional category, which is common to many analyses. The convention to use percent cover of macroalgae as an indication of local human disturbance therefore likely obscures signatures of local anthropogenic threats to reefs. Our limited understanding of relationships between human disturbance, macroalgae taxa, and their responses to human disturbances impedes the ability to diagnose and respond appropriately to these threats.


Publication metadata

Author(s): Cannon SE, Donner SD, Liu A, GonzalezEspinosa PC, Baird AH, Baum JK, Bauman AG, Beger M, Benkwitt CE, Birt MJ, Chancerelle Y, Cinner JE, Crane NL, Denis V, Depczynski M, Fadli N, Fenner D, Fulton CJ, Golbuu Y, Graham NAJ, Guest J, Harrison HB, Hobbs J-PA, Hoey AS, Holmes TH, Houk P, Januchowski-Hartley FA, Jompa J, Kuo C-Y, Limmon GV, Lin YV, McClanahan TR, Muenzel D, Paddack MJ, Planes S, Pratchett MS, Radford B, Reimer JD, Richards ZT, Ross CL, Rulmal J, Sommer B, Williams GJ, Wilson SK

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Global Change Biology

Year: 2023

Volume: 29

Issue: 12

Pages: 3318-3330

Print publication date: 01/06/2023

Online publication date: 05/04/2023

Acceptance date: 01/03/2023

Date deposited: 02/05/2023

ISSN (print): 1354-1013

ISSN (electronic): 1365-2486

Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Inc

URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.16694

DOI: 10.1111/gcb.16694


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Funding

Funder referenceFunder name
#7941-05
104-2611-M-002-020-MY2
106-2611-M-002-008
107-2611-M-002-011
108-2611-M-002-013
109-2611-M-002-017
154-000-649-507
1622339
1546374
7/AMD/E1/KP.PTNBH/2020
80761-SU-1365
CE110001014
DP0877905
CE140100020
CRI-Ulithi1-2
FT160100047
LP160101508
NA15NMF4270336
NE/S006931/1
OAC-UNIV-108-004
P110101540
UF140691
RGPIN-2019-04056
TRIM-DLV-747102

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