Modelling coral reefs to understand nutrient potential from reef fisheries

Supervisory Team:

Primary supervisor: Kirsty Nash

Co-supervisor: Julia Blanchard

Brief project description:

Fish are an important source of bioavailable micronutrients. Changes in fish community composition affects the potential supply of nutrients that society can gain from fisheries. This project will first explore the trait distributions of fish communities on reefs in Vanuatu, then use these trait distributions to develop a size and trait-based model to explore potential fisheries scenarios. This will help provide an understanding of nutrient availability today and in response to ecosystem change. The outputs of the project will help inform efforts to sustainably support the health and wellbeing of communities that rely on reef fisheries.

The project will be based on a unique dataset of reef communities located in three different management zones: fished areas, within no-take marine parks, and in tambu (temporary closures). Using data across these areas, the project will address the following questions:

  1. How does the nutritional composition of the fish community change with the species and trait composition across the different management areas?
  2. Using the data to parameterise a size and trait-based model, how well can we predict community structure and nutrient profiles?
  3. Using alternate fishing scenarios, how would we better design fishing strategies to improve nutritional outcomes in the future?
Authorised by the Executive Director, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies
October 29, 2020