|Countries||Mexico, Honduras, Belize|
|Continent||Central and Latin America|
|Date||25 Jun 2015|
Coral reefs are highly sensitive to overexploitation of parrotfishes because of their important ecological role. A recent report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) identified overfishing of parrotfishes as a major contributing factor to coral reef decline and concluded that restoring parrotfish populations is crucial to reef recovery. Two central strategies to reduce fishing pressure are the implementation of marine reserves and regional scale fish protection.. The efficacy of management strategies designed to restore grazer populations not only depends on reduced fishing pressure, but also on the connectivity of these fish populations across the seascape. Coral reefs are a mosaic of discontinuous habitat and so the recovery of spatially discrete reefs may be dependent on larval input from other sources. Larval dispersal between regions within the Mesoamerican Coral Reef should enhance genetic diversity and promote population recovery or sustainability if fishing pressure is low at source locations. Both diversity and population recovery may be compromised if source populations located outside jurisdictional boundaries are overfished; therefore, incorporating population connectivity data into management practices is crucial. We previously identified high levels of genetic connectivity between populations in Belize and Honduras and evidence of larval retention in one region of Belize. Our results coupled with results from studies that detected high levels of genetic connectivity between populations of other marine organisms highlights the importance of assessing population connectivity for parrotfish throughout the Mesoamerican Coral Reef System.
The proposed study will broaden the connectivity assessment for parrotfish to reefs in Mexico and two additional locations in Honduras and assess fine scale population dynamics including kinship and parentage by collecting fish recruiting to reefs as well as the resident adults on those reefs. Results from this study will allow local managers to establish suitable spatial scales for management that reflect larval dispersal, which will substantially improve our ability to manage and restore these key grazers throughout the Mesoamerican Coral Reef System.
Read about Courtney's previous projects http://www.rufford.org/projects/courtney_cox or for more information contact: