• Effects of a no-take reserve on mangrove fish assemblages: incorporating seascape 2 connectivity

      Marley, Guy; Deacon, Amy; Phillip, Dawn; Lawrence, Andrew; University of the West Indies; Trinidad & Tobago; University of Chester
      No-take reserves (NTRs) have been effective at conserving fish assemblages in tropical systems such as coral reefs, but have rarely been evaluated in turbid tropical estuaries. The present study evaluated the effect of a mangrove NTR on the conservation of juvenile fish abundance, commercial fish biomass and biodiversity at the assemblage level, and the abundance of juveniles, target and non-target adults at the family level. The evaluation incorporated one aspect of seascape connectivity, namely proximity to the sea, or in this case, the Gulf of Paria. Linear mixed models showed that the NTR had a positive effect only on species richness at the assemblage level. However, juvenile fish abundance, commercial fish biomass, taxonomic distinctness and functional diversity were not enhanced in the NTR. The inclusion of connectivity in these models still failed to identify any positive effects of the NTR at the assemblage level. Yet, there were significant benefits to juvenile fish abundance for 5 of 7 families, and for 1 family of non-target adults. Possible explanations for the limited success of the NTR for fish assemblages include failing to account for the ecology of fish species in NTR design, the drawbacks of ‘inside−outside’ (of the NTR) experimental designs and the fact that fishing does not always impact non-target species. It is important to recognise that mangrove NTRs do not necessarily benefit fish assemblages as a whole, but that finer-scale assessments of specific families may reveal some of the proclaimed benefits of NTRs in tropical estuaries.
    • Mangrove or mudflat: Prioritising fish habitat for conservation in a turbid tropical estuary

      Marley, Guy; Deacon, Amy; Philip, Dawn; Lawrence, Andrew; University of the West Indies, University of the West Indies, University of the West Indies, University of Chester (Elsevier, 2020-04-26)
      Mangrove habitats are typically the focus of conservation efforts in tropical estuaries because their structural complexity is thought to support greater biodiversity and nursery function than unvegetated habitats. However, evidence for this paradigm has been equivocal in turbid tropical estuaries where unvegetated mudflats are also highly productive. The present study compared the community composition, biodiversity, nursery-role and commercial fish biomass in two mangrove habitats and one mudflat habitat in the Gulf of Paria, Trinidad. A total of 12 705 fishes, comprising 63 species from 26 families, were sampled in mangrove creeks, seaward mangrove fringe and the subtidal margin of an intertidal mudflat from June 2014 to June 2015. The composition of the creek and mudflat communities were distinct, while the community of the mangrove fringe more closely resembled the mudflat than the mangrove creeks. Mean species richness (MSR), total species richness (TSR) extrapolated from species accumulation curves, and juvenile species richness (JSR) were significantly greater in the mudflat (MSR = 11.4 ± 1.0; TSR = 75 ± 14; JSR = 9.1 ± 0.8) than mangrove creeks (MSR = 9.0 ± 0.5; TSR = 49 ± 3; JSR = 6.1 ± 0.4) and the seaward mangrove fringe (MSR = 6.4 ± 0.7; TSR = 58 ± 14; JSR = 5.2 ± 0.4). Meanwhile, Shannon Weiner diversity, juvenile fish abundance and commercial fish biomass were comparable between habitats. These findings caution against the generalisation that mangroves are the most important habitat for fishes in turbid tropical estuaries. There is now a growing body of evidence that mudflats warrant consideration as important repositories of biodiversity and nursery function for juvenile fishes.
    • Patterns in island endemic forest-dependent bird research: the Caribbean as a case-study

      Devenish-Nelson, Eleanor S.; orcid: 0000-0002-9029-4772; email: ellie.devenish@ed.ac.uk; Weidemann, Douglas; Townsend, Jason; Nelson, Howard P. (Springer Netherlands, 2019-05-04)
      Abstract: Unequal patterns in research effort can result in inaccurate assessments of species extinction risk or ineffective management. A group of notable conservation concern are tropical island endemic birds, many of which are also forest-dependent, which increases their vulnerability to extinction. Yet, island bird species have received limited research attention compared to their continental congeners, despite this taxon being globally regarded as well-studied. We used the insular Caribbean, a globally important endemism hotspot with high rates of deforestation, to explore research bias of island and regional endemic forest-dependent birds. A review of the published literature (n = 992) found no significant increase in the number of studies over the search period. Research effort was significantly higher among species with threatened status, long generation time, wide habitat breadth and low to intermediate elevational distributions. Among family groups, the Psittacidae received the highest research effort, while the Cuculidae were the most underrepresented family (30-fold higher and six-fold less than expected, respectively). We found geographic biases in effort, with Jamaica having six-fold less and Puerto Rico eight times more research than expected for their level of endemism. These patterns likely reflect individual interests and limited capacity and funding, typical of Small Island Developing States. With over 50% of species in this review having declining population trends, we recommend prioritizing research that emphasises conservation- and management-relevant data across underrepresented families and islands, by fostering greater collaboration between researchers, practitioners and the existing local amateur ornithological community.