Jihane Benbahtane

McGill University
M.Sc. candidate

Supervisor: Virginie Millien
Henri Vallès, University of the West Indies
Start: 2018-09-04

Project

The effect of overfishing on parrotfish community structure and its impact on coral reefs
Parrotfish species are keystone reef herbivores which are essential in maintaining low macroalgal cover since their grazing function reduces the spatial competitive pressure that algae proliferation exerts on corals. My research aims at determining the ecological impact of coral reef fishing on parrotfish community structure by exploring three hypotheses. First, increase in fishing pressure predictably decreases average parrotfish size across species. Second, the size-frequency distribution of the larger parrotfish species will be more skewed than that of the smaller ones since the rate of body size reduction along the same fishing pressure gradient should be greater for the larger species. Finally, high fishing pressure should lead to competitive release for the smaller parrotfish species. Data will be collected at six reef sites varying in fishing pressure along the west coast of Barbados, of which one constitutes a no-take zone (Folkestone Park and Marine Reserve).

Keywords

coral reef, fish community structure, overfishing