Luiz Rocha is the curator of ichthyology at the California Academy of Sciences. His research interests and experience are centered on the evolution, phylogeography (or the geographic distribution of genetic lineages), biogeography, systematics and community and behavioral ecology of coral reef fishes. He frequently tries to combine these fields, invoking ecology to help explain evolutionary patterns and using molecular tools to test biogeographic and systematic hypotheses. The overall objective of this interdisciplinary research is to test existing hypotheses (and propose new ones) about what generates and maintains the extremely high biodiversity in tropical coral reefs.
A new report published this week in the journal PLoS ONE indicates that two groups of iconic coral reef herbivores (parrotfishes and surgeonfishes) are in relatively good shape. Life history characteristics of fast growth and high fecundity, combined with the fact that it is hard to catch them with hook and line, seems to be protecting them from overfishing. However, local declines have been noted in populations in the Coral Triangle area (Indonesia and the Philippines), the Caribbean and Brazil.This study also analyzed the status of the most popular marine aquarium fish: the Yellow Tang (Zebrasoma flavescens). The conclusions about this species are that its populations are not at risk because of 1) good fisheries management in Hawaii, 2) protection, the species is present through the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, which are part of the largest marine protected area in the USA, and 3) high fecundity and fast growth, which makes the species resilient to fishing.The entire study can be viewed here: The Likelihood of Extinction of Iconic and Dominant Herbivores and Detritivores of Coral Reefs: The Parrotfishes and Surgeonfishes… More:
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