Title

Long-term increases in abundance of anemonefish and their host sea anemones in an Australian marine protected area

Document Type

Article

Publication details

Scott, A, Malcolm, HA, Damiano, C & Richardson, DL 2011, 'Long-term increases in abundance of anemonefish and their host sea anemones in an Australian marine protected area', Marine and Freshwater Research, vol. 62, no. 2, pp. 187-196.

Published version available from:

http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/MF10323

Peer Reviewed

Peer-Reviewed

Abstract

Understanding the population dynamics of host sea anemones and their symbiotic anemonefish is important given that pressures such as aquarium collecting and bleaching events are adversely impacting their abundance in some Indo–Pacific locations. We examined long-term trends in anemone and anemonefish abundance at four sites within a ‘no-take’ zone at North Solitary Island, Australia, by comparing data from 2008 to surveys done in 1994 and 1995. Species richness was stable, comprising two anemones,Entacmaea quadricolor and Heteractis crispa, and three anemonefishes, Amphiprion akindynos, A. latezonatus, and A. melanopus. In 2008, densities of the most abundant species, E. quadricolor and A. akindynos, were substantially higher than previously recorded, with increases of up to 532% and 133%, respectively. There was a strong relationship between A. akindynos densities and anemone cover, whereasA. latezonatus had higher densities in deeper waters. Densities of this species remained similar over time, although there was a decline at one site. Heteractis crispa and A. melanopus were found in comparatively low numbers. Potential reasons for the overall increase in abundance include: protection from severe swell events, the lack of major bleaching events, the ability of E. quadricolor to reproduce rapidly by asexual reproduction, and the increasing duration of marine park protection.