Form and function of tropical macroalgal reefs in the Anthropocene

Christopher J. Fulton, Rene A. Abesamis, Charlotte Berkstroem, Martial Depczynski, Nicholas A. J. Graham, Thomas H. Holmes, Michel Kulbicki, Mae M. Noble, Ben T. Radford, Stina Tano, Paul Tinkler, Thomas Wernberg, Shaun K. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Tropical reefs have been subjected to a range of anthropogenic pressures such as global climate change, overfishing and eutrophication that have raised questions about the prominence of macroalgae on tropical reefs, whether they pose a threat to biodiversity, and how they may influence the function of tropical marine ecosystems. We synthesise current understanding of the structure and function of tropical macroalgal reefs and how they may support various ecosystem goods and services. We then forecast how key stressors may alter the role of macroalgal reefs in tropical seascapes of the Anthropocene. High levels of primary productivity from tropical canopy macroalgae, which rivals that of other key producers (e.g., corals and turf algae), can be widely dispersed across tropical seascapes to provide a boost of secondary productivity in a range of biomes that include coral reefs, and support periodic harvests of macroalgal biomass for industrial and agricultural uses. Complex macroalgal reefs that comprise a mixture of canopy and understorey taxa can also provide key habitats for a diverse community of epifauna, as well as juvenile and adult fishes that are the basis for important tropical fisheries. Key macroalgal taxa (e.g., Sargassum) that form complex macroalgal reefs are likely to be sensitive to future climate change. Increases in maximum sea temperature, in particular, could depress biomass production and/or drive phenological shifts in canopy formation that will affect their capacity to support tropical marine ecosystems. Macroalgal reefs can support a suite of tropical marine ecosystem functions when embedded within an interconnected mosaic of habitat types. Habitat connectivity is, therefore, essential if we are to maintain tropical marine biodiversity alongside key ecosystem goods and services. Consequently, complex macroalgal reefs should be treated as a key ecological asset in strategies for the conservation and management of diverse tropical seascapes. A plain language summary is available for this article.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)989-999
Number of pages11
JournalFunctional Ecology
Volume33
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019

Cite this

Fulton, Christopher J. ; Abesamis, Rene A. ; Berkstroem, Charlotte ; Depczynski, Martial ; Graham, Nicholas A. J. ; Holmes, Thomas H. ; Kulbicki, Michel ; Noble, Mae M. ; Radford, Ben T. ; Tano, Stina ; Tinkler, Paul ; Wernberg, Thomas ; Wilson, Shaun K. / Form and function of tropical macroalgal reefs in the Anthropocene. In: Functional Ecology. 2019 ; Vol. 33, No. 6. pp. 989-999.
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abstract = "Tropical reefs have been subjected to a range of anthropogenic pressures such as global climate change, overfishing and eutrophication that have raised questions about the prominence of macroalgae on tropical reefs, whether they pose a threat to biodiversity, and how they may influence the function of tropical marine ecosystems. We synthesise current understanding of the structure and function of tropical macroalgal reefs and how they may support various ecosystem goods and services. We then forecast how key stressors may alter the role of macroalgal reefs in tropical seascapes of the Anthropocene. High levels of primary productivity from tropical canopy macroalgae, which rivals that of other key producers (e.g., corals and turf algae), can be widely dispersed across tropical seascapes to provide a boost of secondary productivity in a range of biomes that include coral reefs, and support periodic harvests of macroalgal biomass for industrial and agricultural uses. Complex macroalgal reefs that comprise a mixture of canopy and understorey taxa can also provide key habitats for a diverse community of epifauna, as well as juvenile and adult fishes that are the basis for important tropical fisheries. Key macroalgal taxa (e.g., Sargassum) that form complex macroalgal reefs are likely to be sensitive to future climate change. Increases in maximum sea temperature, in particular, could depress biomass production and/or drive phenological shifts in canopy formation that will affect their capacity to support tropical marine ecosystems. Macroalgal reefs can support a suite of tropical marine ecosystem functions when embedded within an interconnected mosaic of habitat types. Habitat connectivity is, therefore, essential if we are to maintain tropical marine biodiversity alongside key ecosystem goods and services. Consequently, complex macroalgal reefs should be treated as a key ecological asset in strategies for the conservation and management of diverse tropical seascapes. A plain language summary is available for this article.",
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author = "Fulton, {Christopher J.} and Abesamis, {Rene A.} and Charlotte Berkstroem and Martial Depczynski and Graham, {Nicholas A. J.} and Holmes, {Thomas H.} and Michel Kulbicki and Noble, {Mae M.} and Radford, {Ben T.} and Stina Tano and Paul Tinkler and Thomas Wernberg and Wilson, {Shaun K.}",
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Fulton, CJ, Abesamis, RA, Berkstroem, C, Depczynski, M, Graham, NAJ, Holmes, TH, Kulbicki, M, Noble, MM, Radford, BT, Tano, S, Tinkler, P, Wernberg, T & Wilson, SK 2019, 'Form and function of tropical macroalgal reefs in the Anthropocene' Functional Ecology, vol. 33, no. 6, pp. 989-999. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2435.13282

Form and function of tropical macroalgal reefs in the Anthropocene. / Fulton, Christopher J.; Abesamis, Rene A.; Berkstroem, Charlotte; Depczynski, Martial; Graham, Nicholas A. J.; Holmes, Thomas H.; Kulbicki, Michel; Noble, Mae M.; Radford, Ben T.; Tano, Stina; Tinkler, Paul; Wernberg, Thomas; Wilson, Shaun K.

In: Functional Ecology, Vol. 33, No. 6, 06.2019, p. 989-999.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

TY - JOUR

T1 - Form and function of tropical macroalgal reefs in the Anthropocene

AU - Fulton, Christopher J.

AU - Abesamis, Rene A.

AU - Berkstroem, Charlotte

AU - Depczynski, Martial

AU - Graham, Nicholas A. J.

AU - Holmes, Thomas H.

AU - Kulbicki, Michel

AU - Noble, Mae M.

AU - Radford, Ben T.

AU - Tano, Stina

AU - Tinkler, Paul

AU - Wernberg, Thomas

AU - Wilson, Shaun K.

PY - 2019/6

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N2 - Tropical reefs have been subjected to a range of anthropogenic pressures such as global climate change, overfishing and eutrophication that have raised questions about the prominence of macroalgae on tropical reefs, whether they pose a threat to biodiversity, and how they may influence the function of tropical marine ecosystems. We synthesise current understanding of the structure and function of tropical macroalgal reefs and how they may support various ecosystem goods and services. We then forecast how key stressors may alter the role of macroalgal reefs in tropical seascapes of the Anthropocene. High levels of primary productivity from tropical canopy macroalgae, which rivals that of other key producers (e.g., corals and turf algae), can be widely dispersed across tropical seascapes to provide a boost of secondary productivity in a range of biomes that include coral reefs, and support periodic harvests of macroalgal biomass for industrial and agricultural uses. Complex macroalgal reefs that comprise a mixture of canopy and understorey taxa can also provide key habitats for a diverse community of epifauna, as well as juvenile and adult fishes that are the basis for important tropical fisheries. Key macroalgal taxa (e.g., Sargassum) that form complex macroalgal reefs are likely to be sensitive to future climate change. Increases in maximum sea temperature, in particular, could depress biomass production and/or drive phenological shifts in canopy formation that will affect their capacity to support tropical marine ecosystems. Macroalgal reefs can support a suite of tropical marine ecosystem functions when embedded within an interconnected mosaic of habitat types. Habitat connectivity is, therefore, essential if we are to maintain tropical marine biodiversity alongside key ecosystem goods and services. Consequently, complex macroalgal reefs should be treated as a key ecological asset in strategies for the conservation and management of diverse tropical seascapes. A plain language summary is available for this article.

AB - Tropical reefs have been subjected to a range of anthropogenic pressures such as global climate change, overfishing and eutrophication that have raised questions about the prominence of macroalgae on tropical reefs, whether they pose a threat to biodiversity, and how they may influence the function of tropical marine ecosystems. We synthesise current understanding of the structure and function of tropical macroalgal reefs and how they may support various ecosystem goods and services. We then forecast how key stressors may alter the role of macroalgal reefs in tropical seascapes of the Anthropocene. High levels of primary productivity from tropical canopy macroalgae, which rivals that of other key producers (e.g., corals and turf algae), can be widely dispersed across tropical seascapes to provide a boost of secondary productivity in a range of biomes that include coral reefs, and support periodic harvests of macroalgal biomass for industrial and agricultural uses. Complex macroalgal reefs that comprise a mixture of canopy and understorey taxa can also provide key habitats for a diverse community of epifauna, as well as juvenile and adult fishes that are the basis for important tropical fisheries. Key macroalgal taxa (e.g., Sargassum) that form complex macroalgal reefs are likely to be sensitive to future climate change. Increases in maximum sea temperature, in particular, could depress biomass production and/or drive phenological shifts in canopy formation that will affect their capacity to support tropical marine ecosystems. Macroalgal reefs can support a suite of tropical marine ecosystem functions when embedded within an interconnected mosaic of habitat types. Habitat connectivity is, therefore, essential if we are to maintain tropical marine biodiversity alongside key ecosystem goods and services. Consequently, complex macroalgal reefs should be treated as a key ecological asset in strategies for the conservation and management of diverse tropical seascapes. A plain language summary is available for this article.

KW - nursery

KW - productivity

KW - Sargassum

KW - seascape

KW - seasonality

KW - spatial subsidy

KW - SOUTH-WEST LAGOON

KW - CORAL-REEF

KW - FISH RECRUITMENT

KW - PHASE-SHIFTS

KW - HERBIVOROUS FISHES

KW - SEASONAL-CHANGES

KW - MARINE RESERVES

KW - REGIME SHIFTS

KW - SARGASSUM

KW - PATTERNS

U2 - 10.1111/1365-2435.13282

DO - 10.1111/1365-2435.13282

M3 - Review article

VL - 33

SP - 989

EP - 999

JO - Functional Ecology

JF - Functional Ecology

SN - 0269-8463

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ER -