Journal article

Intensive fishing of marine consumers causes a dramatic shift in the benthic habitat on temperate rocky reefs

Elisabeth MA Strain, Craig R Johnson



Intensive fishing can cause dramatic, long-lasting shifts in benthic habitat. This study used three approaches to test whether overharvesting of blacklip abalone (Haliotis rubra) can cause a shift in benthic habitat to a configuration that is unsuitable for abalone, on the east coast of Tasmania, Australia. After 18 months of removing abalone from rocks, encrusting red algae (ERA) became overgrown by filamentous and foliose algae, sessile invertebrates and accumulated sediment. The differences in the community composition between locations, sites nested within locations and rocks were minor. Throughout the study, abalone were largely associated with areas of rock covered in ERA but avoided o..

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University of Melbourne Researchers


Funding Acknowledgements

We thank those who assisted with fieldwork, particularly Ryan Downie, Richard Holmes and David Sinn. This study was part of a Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization Joint PhD Program in Quantitative Marine Science and supported by an Australian Postgraduate Award. The research was supported by Tasmanian Aquaculture and Fisheries Institute and Tasmanian Abalone Council grants. We thank the individuals from these organizations that participated in collecting the data. We thank the editor and two anonymous referees for their valuable comments to the manuscript and their constructive suggestions.