• Field sites
• Spatial structure of coral ecosystems
• Natural and anthropogenic disturbances :
Life cycles of fish and essential habitats | Impact on fishes and invertebrates | Diversity and functioning of ecosytems
Dynamics of socio-ecological systems | Management applications
• Management tools
• Towards the sustainable development of coral reef ecosystems
Natural and anthropogenic disturbances
Natural and/or anthropogenic disturbances (climatic changes, cyclones, very high tides, dredging and landfilling, overfishing, fishing with explosives or poison, hypersedimentation ) play a major rôle in the structuration and dynamics of communities associated to coral reefs. The impact of various disturbances on coral reef communities has been widely studied: bleaching, cyclones, demographic explosions of Acanthaster planci , the spiny crown-of-thorns starfish, overfishing. These different degradations have an impact on coral communities at the very base of the reef structure itself as well as a cascading effect on associated communities (algea, invertebrates, fishes). By diminishing the complexity of the coral habitat, these modifications affect the temporal dynamic of the associated reef communities: yet it is this very biocomplexity which lies at the origin of the great biodiversity and abundance observed in reef ecosystems, through the favoring of species reproduction and the installation of larvae, and through the provision of potential shelter from predators. Protection of habitats and their associated species is one of the many awaited for goals of the implementation of Marine Protected Areas.
Given this state of affairs, continued objectives focus on learning the important processes needed to ensure sustainable development of coral reef ecosystems by:
- Identifying the coastal habitats presenting optimal survival conditions for larval and juvenile stages of fishes, indispensable to population maintenance ;
- Determining the essential biological and ecological elements to be taken into account in order to meet needs and expectations of local populations regarding resources of reef-lagoon invertebrates and fishes ;
- Predicting, evaluating and following the response of coral reef ecosystems to bleaching and disturbances, and deducing the direct consequences in terms of fisheries management, conservation of biodiversity and tourism.