Micheli Fiorenza

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  • Preprint
    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.
  • Article
    Influence of kelp forest biomass on nearshore currents
    (American Geophysical Union, 2022-06-24) Monismith, Stephen G. ; Alnajjar, Maha W. ; Woodson, Clifton Brock ; Boch, Charles A. ; Hernandez, Arturo ; Vazquez-Vera, Leonardo ; Bell, Tom W. ; Micheli, Fiorenza
    As part of a project focused on the coastal fisheries of Isla Natividad, an island on the Pacific coast of Baja California, Mexico, we conducted a 2-1/2 year study of flows at two sites within the island's kelp forests. At one site (Punta Prieta), currents are tidal, whereas at the other site (Morro Prieto), currents are weaker and may be more strongly influenced by wind forcing. Satellite estimates of the biomass of the giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) for this period varied between 0 (no kelp) and 3 kg/m2 (dense kelp forest), including a period in which kelp entirely was absent as a result of the 2014–2015 “Warm Blob” in the Eastern Pacific. During this natural “deforestation experiment”, alongshore velocities at both sites when kelp was present were substantially weaker than when kelp was absent, with low-frequency alongshore currents attenuated more than higher frequency ones, behavior that was the same at both sites despite differences in forcing. The attenuation of cross-shore flows by kelp was less than alongshore flows; thus, residence times for water inside the kelp forest, which are primarily determined by cross-shore velocities, were only weakly affected by the presence or absence of kelp. The flow changes we observed in response to changes in kelp density are important to the biogeochemical functioning of the kelp forest in that slower flows imply longer residence times, and, are also ecologically relevant in that reduced tidal excursions may lead to more localized recruitment of planktonic larvae.
  • Article
    Disentangling trophic interactions inside a Caribbean marine reserve
    (Ecological Society of America, 2010-10) Kellner, Julie B. ; Litvin, Steven Y. ; Hastings, Alan ; Micheli, Fiorenza ; Mumby, Peter J.
    Recent empirical studies have demonstrated that human activities such as fishing can strongly affect the natural capital and services provided by tropical seascapes. However, policies to mitigate anthropogenic impacts can also alter food web structure and interactions, regardless of whether the regulations are aimed at single or multiple species, with possible unexpected consequences for the ecosystems and their associated services. Complex community response to management interventions have been highlighted in the Caribbean, where, contrary to predictions from linear food chain models, a reduction in fishing intensity through the establishment of a marine reserve has led to greater biomass of herbivorous fish inside the reserve, despite an increased abundance of large predatory piscivores. This positive multi-trophic response, where both predators and prey benefit from protection, highlights the need to take an integrated approach that considers how numerous factors control species coexistence in both fished and unfished systems. In order to understand these complex relationships, we developed a general model to examine the trade-offs between fishing pressure and trophic control on reef fish communities, including an exploration of top-down and bottom-up effects. We then validated the general model predictions by parameterizing the model for a reef system in the Bahamas in order to tease apart the wide range of species responses to reserves in the Caribbean. Combining the development of general theory and site-specific models parameterized with field data reveals the underlying driving forces in these communities and enables us to make better predictions about possible population and community responses to different management schemes.