New publication

Cross-continent comparisons reveal differing environmental drivers of growth of the coral reef fish, Lutjanus bohar

Joyce Ong, Jessica Meeuwig | Dec 02, 2016

Joyce Ong, Jessica Meeuwig

Dec 02, 2016

CITATION

Ong JJL, Rountrey AN, Marriott RJ, Newman SJ, Meeuwig JJ, Meekan MG. 2016. Cross-continent comparisons reveal differing environmental drivers of growth of the coral reef fish, Lutjanus bohar. Coral Reefs, DOI: 10.1007/s00338-016-1520-2.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Populations of the tropical snapper Lutjanus bohar that reside in different ocean basins, have different drivers of growth.
  • Generalized mixed effects models used on the otolith chronologies were used to examine the historic drivers of growth.
  • Local oceanographic and biological context of reef systems strongly influenced the growth of Lutjanus bohar.

ABSTRACT

Biochronologies provide important insights into the growth responses of fishes to past variability in physical and biological environments and, in so doing, allow modelling of likely responses to climate change in the future. We examined spatial variability in the key drivers of inter-annual growth patterns of a widespread, tropical snapper, Lutjanus bohar, at similar tropical latitudes on the north-western and north-eastern coasts of the continent of Australia. For this study, we developed biochronologies from otoliths that provided proxies of somatic growth and these were analysed using mixed-effects models to examine the historical drivers of growth. Our analyses demonstrated that growth patterns of fish were driven by different climatic and biological factors in each region, including Pacific Ocean climate indices, regional sea level and the size structure of the fish community. Our results showed that the local oceanographic and biological context of reef systems strongly influenced the growth of L. bohar and that a single age-related growth trend cannot be assumed for separate populations of this species that are likely to experience different environmental conditions. Generalised predictions about the growth response of fishes to climate change will thus require adequate characterisation of the spatial variability in growth determinants likely to be found throughout the range of species that have cosmopolitan distributions.

FUNDING & ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The authors acknowledge the facilities, and the scientific and technical assistance of the Australian Microscopy and Microanalysis Research Facility at the Centre for Microscopy, Characterisation and Analysis, the University of Western Australia, a facility funded by the University, State and Commonwealth Governments. This work was funded by the Australian National Network in Marine Science, the Australian Institute of Marine Science and conducted as part of a PhD thesis funded by a scholarship from the Australian Postgraduate Awards. We thank the Effects of Line Fishing (ELF) Project and Centre for Sustainable Tropical Fisheries and Aquaculture at James Cook University for provision of samples from the Great Barrier Reef. The ELF Project had financial support from the Cooperative Research Centre for the Ecologically Sustainable Development of the Great Barrier Reef, the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, James Cook University and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.