Perle Chris

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    High apex predator biomass on remote Pacific islands
    ( 2006-09-06) Stevenson, Charlotte ; Katz, Laure S. ; Micheli, Fiorenza ; Block, Barbara A. ; Heiman, Kimberly W. ; Perle, Chris ; Weng, Kevin ; Dunbar, Robert B. ; Witting, Jan H.
    On coral reefs in Palmyra—a central Pacific atoll with limited fishing pressure—total fish biomass is 428 and 299% greater than on reefs in nearby Christmas and Fanning Islands. Large apex predators –groupers, sharks, snappers, and jacks larger than 50 cm in length- account for 56% of total fish biomass in Palmyra on average, but only 7% and 3% on Christmas and Fanning. These biomass proportions are remarkably similar to those previously reported for the remote and uninhabited Northwest Hawaiian Islands (NWHI) and densely populated Main Hawaiian Islands (MHI), although Palmyra’s reefs are dominated in biomass by sharks (44% of the total), whereas the NWHI by jacks (39%). Herbivorous fish biomass was also greater on Palmyra than on Christmas and Fanning (343% and 207%, respectively). These results and previous findings indicate that remote, uninhabited islands support high levels of consumers, and highlight the importance of healthy coral reef ecosystems as reference points for assessment of human impacts and establishment of restoration goals.