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Physiology meets conservation: Challenges, success stories, and future directions in the Indo-Pacific, Jodie Rummer [et al.]

Physiology meets conservation: Challenges, success stories, and future directions in the Indo-Pacific, Jodie Rummer [et al.]

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The responses of fish embryos to boat noise

and finding solutions to underwater noise


Sofia Jain-Schlaepfer ∗† 1,2 , Eric Fakan 1 , Stephen Simpson 3 , Jodie

Rummer 2 , Mark Mccormick 1,2



College of Science and Engineering (JCU) – James Cooke University, Townsville, Queensland,


ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies – James Cook University, Townsville, QLD, Australia


University of Exeter – St Luke´s Campus, Heavitree Road, Exeter, EX1 2LU, United Kingdom

Human generated noise is changing natural underwater soundscapes worldwide. The most

pervasive source of underwater anthropogenic noise is from motor-powered boats, which are

increasing in numbers dramatically throughout the world’s waterways. Many aspects of fish

biology, including physiology, predator evasion and navigation, have been found to be detrimentally affected by boat noise. However, few studies have examined the effects of noise at the

embryonic life stage. In this study, we use a novel setup to monitor embryo heart rates in the

field, allowing us to examine the effects of real boat noise in the fish’s natural environment.

We found that embryo heart rate, a measure of a stress response, increased in the presence

of recreational boats. Additionally, we examined the differential effects of two different engine

types with different soundscapes, and found 2-stroke outboard-powered boats had more than

twice the effect on embryo heart rate than did boats powered by a 4-stroke engine, showing an

increase in mean heart rate of 1.9% and 4.6%, respectively. Knowing the effects that particular

engine types have on marine organisms through their sound emissions provides an important

tool to reef managers for the mitigation of noise pollution.


Corresponding author: sofiaj@rogers.com


G1/ Moving Forward by Looking

Back: The Use of Time Series and

Monitoring Data in Fish Ecology


Are fish statistically informative indicators

for long-term monitoring of coral reef


Simon Van Wynsberge ∗ 1 , Antoine Gilbert 2 , Nicolas Guillemot 3 , Tom

Heintz 2 , Laura Tremblay-Boyer 4


UMR Entropie Institut de Recherche pour le d´eveloppement, Universit´e de La R´eunion, CNRS –

Centre IRD de Tahiti, BP529, 98713 Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia


GINGER SOPRONER – Noum´ea, New Caledonia


Dexen ltd – Noumea, New Caledonia


Pacific Community (SPC) – Noumea, New Caledonia

Extensive and long term biological field surveys are paramount to environmental sciences,

especially regarding highly variable assemblages such as reef fishes, yet they are costly and time

consuming. Identifying informative indicators of anthropogenic disturbances is thus a priority

to optimize sampling and ensure sustainable monitoring implementations on the long term.

We used 480 candidate indicators by combining metrics measured from fishes assemblages (all

fishes, families, and functional groups) surveyed yearly from 2006 to 2012 in the vicinity of an

ongoing mining project in the Voh-Kon´e-Pouembout lagoon, New Caledonia. Power analyses

were performed to identify a subset of indicators which would best discriminate temporal changes

resulting from a simulated chronic anthropogenic impact. For comparison, similar analyses were

applied to descriptors of reef habitats and macro-invertebrate assemblages. Only 7% of tested

indicators which involved fishes were likely to detect anthropogenic impacts with sufficient power

(> 0.80). Fishes generally exerted lower statistical power than habitat metrics because of higher

natural variability and lower occurrence. Similarly, indicators based on the whole assemblage

or on functional groups provided higher power than indicators based on families, underlining

the interest of functional approaches in fish ecology and disturbance detection. Nevertheless,

a number of families of common sedentary fishes also performed well in detecting changes:

Pomacentridae, Labridae and Chaetodontidae. Interestingly, these families did not provide

high power in all geomorphological strata, suggesting that the ability of indicators in detecting

anthropogenic impacts was closely linked to reef geomorphology. This work provides a first

operational step toward identifying statistically relevant indicators of chronic anthropogenic

disturbances in New Caledonia’s coral reefs, which could be transposed to similar tropical reef

ecosystems where little information is available regarding the responses of ecological metrics to

anthropogenic disturbances.



Discovery of abundant fish otoliths in fossil

coral reefs greatly extends monitoring of

coral reef fishes

Aaron O’dea

∗ 1

, Brigida De Gracia 1 , Chien-Hsiang Lin

Pierotti 1 , Orangel Aguilera 1,3


, Michele



Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) – Balboa, Ancon, Panama

National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium – 2 Houwan Road, Checheng, Pingtung, 944,

Taiwan, R.O.C., Taiwan


Universidade Federal Fluminense (UFF) – Niter´oi-RJ, Brazil

The fossil record of corals, covering the last 10 thousand years or so, has been critical in

helping reconstruct coral reef baselines, reveal drivers of variation and change, and provide

guidelines for coral reef conservation. Unlike corals, however, fishes have always been believed

to be absent from these records, greatly limiting our ability to explore variation in reef fish

communities over time. We discover that, on the contrary, fish otoliths can be exceptionally

well-preserved and abundant components of fossil reef assemblages and can be identified to a

level with ecological value. We first show that diverse fish otolith assemblages from modern

reef sediments faithfully (with some important caveats) represent the driving ecological signal

of the living reef fish community, thereby providing an alternative to destructive fish ecological

survey techniques. Excavation of > 100kg of fossil reef sediment from several mid-Holocene

( ˜8ka) reefs yielded more than 8000 fossil reef fish otoliths representing 38 families. Analysis of

these assemblages reveals how the taxonomic and functional structure of reef fish communities

have changed since the arrival of humans with possible application for reef fish conservation.

We discuss the limitations and potentials of the approach to assist in conservation efforts and

explore ecological processes in coral reef fishes.



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Physiology meets conservation: Challenges, success stories, and future directions in the Indo-Pacific, Jodie Rummer [et al.]

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