Environmental factors affecting large-bodied coral reef fish assemblages in the Mariana Archipelago

PLoS One. 2012;7(2):e31374. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0031374. Epub 2012 Feb 27.


Large-bodied reef fishes represent an economically and ecologically important segment of the coral reef fish assemblage. Many of these individuals supply the bulk of the reproductive output for their population and have a disproportionate effect on their environment (e.g. as apex predators or bioeroding herbivores). Large-bodied reef fishes also tend to be at greatest risk of overfishing, and their loss can result in a myriad of either cascading (direct) or indirect trophic and other effects. While many studies have investigated habitat characteristics affecting populations of small-bodied reef fishes, few have explored the relationship between large-bodied species and their environment. Here, we describe the distribution of the large-bodied reef fishes in the Mariana Archipelago with an emphasis on the environmental factors associated with their distribution. Of the factors considered in this study, a negative association with human population density showed the highest relative influence on the distribution of large-bodied reef fishes; however, depth, water temperature, and distance to deep water also were important. These findings provide new information on the ecology of large-bodied reef fishes can inform discussions concerning essential fish habitat and ecosystem-based management for these species and highlight important knowledge gaps worthy of additional research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biodiversity
  • Biomass
  • Conservation of Natural Resources
  • Coral Reefs*
  • Ecology
  • Ecosystem
  • Environment*
  • Fishes / physiology*
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Oceans and Seas
  • Population Density
  • Population Dynamics
  • Regression Analysis