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Dr David Feary


To be utterly truthful I majored in Marine Biology during my BSc at the University of Auckland as I surfed. However, I found that understanding more than just where the next swell was going to be hitting was pretty interesting. Once finishing my BSc I undertook a Masters (investigating mechanisms of species maintenance within Tripterygiidae) at the University of Auckland with Assoc Prof Kendall Clements.

The warmer waters of the tropics then called, and I moved to Australia to undertake a PhD at James Cook University on the role of coral loss in structuring reef fish community dynamics (graduating 2008) supervised by the dream team of Prof. Geoffrey Jones, Assoc Prof. Mark McCormick and Dr Glenn Almany. This was followed by a 3 year postdoctoral fellowship in Dubai working within a United Nations University – INWEH program headed by Prof. Peter Sale. During this postdoc I worked on a range of projects, though my passion for understanding the dynamics important in structuring reef fish communities saw me undertake work within Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Oman.

In 2011 I took up a UTS Chancellor's Postdoctoral Research Fellow with Prof. David Booth studying the ecological role of range shifting fish species in structuring temperate ecosystems. However, my interest in examining whether there are global patterns in the mechanisms structuring reef fish communities has resulted in ongoing projects in the Middle East, Singapore, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.


PhD Marine Ecology, James Cook University, awarded September 2008
Masters Marine Biology, University of Auckland, 2001
BSc Zoology, University of Auckland, 1998

Career development
Jan 2011 (3 years) Chancellors Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Technology Sydney
Examining the mechanisms of influx and potential importance of tropical vagrants (tropical fishes that move south in summer months) in structuring fish assemblages in cooler temperate waters of SE Australia.
Dec 2009 – Nov 2010 Senior Marine Environmental Consultant, URS Corporation – Abu Dhabi
Head marine gas and oil consultant, responsible for supervision and mentoring of three environmental consultants
Aug 2007 – Nov 2009 Postdoctoral Fellow, United Nations University INWEH – Dubai
The primary goal of this project was to design and implement a long-term environmental monitoring program (EMP) and management plan for marine waters surrounding the Palm Development Projects within Dubai. Ecological and environmental research was carried out to determine the nature of these newly developed ecosystems and how they respond to weather and other environmental variables.

Visiting research fellowship
2011/2012 Visiting Research Scholar: New York University (Abu Dhabi); Nanyang Technological University (Singapore)
2009 Visiting Research Scholar, Windsor University, Canada (2 months)

Fellowships and scholarships (with salary)
2011-14 Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, University of Technology Sydney (3 years full-time salary inc. $45K research support + $30K travel fellowship)
2007-10 Postdoctoral Fellow, United Nations University – INWEH (3 years full-time salary, inc. US4m research support)
2003-07 James Cook University, Postgraduate Research Award (3 years full-time salary)

Awards, prizes and travel grants (selected)
2011 Early Career Research Grant, University of Technology, Sydney ($24,946)
2007 Best student paper, Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies ($1000)
2006-2007 James Cook University Graduate Research Scholarship ($1500 per year)
2006 Australian Coral Reef Society for best student presentation at national conference ($300)
2005 Australian Coral Reef Society Fellowship ($2000); The Nature Conservancy, PNG ($9900)
2004 Australian Coral Reef Society Terry Walker Award ($2500); Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Science for Management Award ($1000)
2003 James Cook University Merit Research Grant for examining effects of coral loss on reef fish communities on Great Barrier Reef ($19000)

Image of David Feary
Associate of the Faculty, School of Life Sciences
B. Sc, M.Sc, PhD
+61 2 9514 4068

Research Interests

The role of extreme environments in structuring tropical reef fish communities
Mechanisms facilitating range shifts of tropical fish species into temperate ecosystems
Effects of ocean acidification on finfish fisheries species
Behavioural impacts of marine protected area development on fish community structure
Functional structuring of temperate reef fish communities

Other professional development
Senior editor for Special Issue in Marine Pollution Bulletin encompassing papers discussing the current marine research within the Arabian Gulf (due to be published July 2012)
Co-organiser (with 2 colleagues) of Coral Reefs of the Gulf conference Abu Dhabi 17-19 Jan 2012
Co-participant (led by Prof Peter Sale) within international workshop on “Managing Coastal Seas for the 21st Century” July 2012


Feary, D.A., Burt, J.A., Cavalcante, G.H. & Bauman, A.G. 2012, 'Extreme physical factors and the structure of gulf fish and reef communities' in Riegl, B.M. & Purkis, S.J. (eds), Coral Reefs of the Gulf, Springer, Netherlands, pp. 163-170.
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Burt, J.A., Bartholomew, A. & Feary, D.A. 2012, 'Man-made structures as artificial reefs in the gulf' in Riegl, B.M. & Purkis, S.J. (eds), Coral Reefs of the Gulf, Springer, Netherlands, pp. 171-186.
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Chapter 10 (Burt et al.) acknowledges the fact that the spectacular economic development in the Gulf region has created miles of arti fi cial reef habitat and explores the dynamics, and conservation value, of man-made habitats. The following section reviews the systematics and taxonomy of some major animal and plant groups found on coral reefs.

Journal articles

Basford, A.J., Feary, D.A., Truong, G., Steinberg, P.D., Marzinelli, E.M. & Verges, A. 2016, 'Feeding habits of range-shifting herbivores: tropical surgeonfishes in a temperate environment', MARINE AND FRESHWATER RESEARCH, vol. 67, no. 1, pp. 75-83.
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Beck, H.J., Feary, D.A., Fowler, A.M., Madin, E.M.P. & Booth, D.J. 2016, 'Temperate predators and seasonal water temperatures impact feeding of a range expanding tropical fish', MARINE BIOLOGY, vol. 163, no. 4.
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Beck, H.J., Feary, D.A., Nakamura, Y. & Booth, D.J. 2016, 'Wave-sheltered embayments are recruitment hotspots for tropical fishes on temperate reefs', MARINE ECOLOGY PROGRESS SERIES, vol. 546, pp. 197-212.
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Cinner, J.E., Huchery, C., MacNeil, M.A., Graham, N.A.J., McClanahan, T.R., Maina, J., Maire, E., Kittinger, J.N., Hicks, C.C., Mora, C., Allison, E.H., D'Agata, S., Hoey, A., Feary, D.A., Crowder, L., Williams, I.D., Kulbicki, M., Vigliola, L., Wantiez, L., Edgar, G., Stuart-Smith, R.D., Sandin, S.A., Green, A.L., Hardt, M.J., Beger, M., Friedlander, A., Campbell, S.J., Holmes, K.E., Wilson, S.K., Brokovich, E., Brooks, A.J., Cruz-Motta, J.J., Booth, D.J., Chabanet, P., Gough, C., Tupper, M., Ferse, S.C.A., Sumaila, U.R. & Mouillot, D. 2016, 'Bright spots among the world's coral reefs', NATURE, vol. 535, no. 7612, pp. 416-+.
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Feary, D.A., Pratchett, M.S., Emslie, M.J., Fowler, A., Figueira, W.F., Luiz, O.J., Nakamura, Y. & Booth, D.J. 2014, 'Latitudinal shifts in coral reef fishes: why some species do and others do not shift', Fish and Fisheries, vol. 15, no. 4, pp. 593-615.
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Climate change is resulting in rapid poleward shifts in the geographical distribution of many tropical fish species, but it is equally apparent that some fishes are failing to exhibit expected shifts in their geographical distribution. There is still little understanding of the species-specific traits that may constrain or promote successful establishment of populations in temperate regions. We review the factors likely to affect population establishment, including larval supply, settlement and post-settlement processes. In addition, we conduct meta-analyses on existing and new data to examine relationships between species-specific traits and vagrancy. We show that tropical vagrant species are more likely to originate from high-latitude populations, while at the demographic level, tropical fish species with large body size, high swimming ability, large size at settlement and pelagic spawning behaviour are more likely to show successful settlement into temperate habitats. We also show that both habitat and food limitation at settlement and within juvenile stages may constrain tropical vagrant communities to those species with medium to low reliance on coral resources.
Booth, D.J., Poulos, D.E., Poole, J. & Feary, D.A. 2014, 'Growth and temperature relationships for juvenile fish species in seagrass beds: implications of climate change', Journal Of Fish Biology, vol. 84, no. 1, pp. 231-236.
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The effect of water temperature on growth responses of three common seagrass fish species that co-occur as juveniles in the estuaries in Sydney (34° S) but have differing latitudinal ranges was measured: Pelates sexlineatus (subtropical to warm temperate: 2735° S), Centropogon australis (primarily subtropical to warm temperate: 2437° S) and Acanthaluteres spilomelanurus (warm to cool temperate: below 32° S). Replicate individuals of each species were acclimated over a 7?day period in one of three temperature treatments (control: 22°?C, low: 18°?C and high: 26°?C) and their somatic growth was assessed within treatments over 10?days. Growth of all three species was affected by water temperature, with the highest growth of both northern species (P. sexlineatus and C. australis) at 22 and 26°?C, whereas growth of the southern ranging species (A. spilomelanurus) was reduced at temperatures higher than 18°?C, suggesting that predicted increase in estuarine water temperatures through climate change may change relative performance of seagrass fish assemblages.
Beck, H.J., Feary, D.A., Figueira, W.F. & Booth, D.J. 2014, 'Assessing range shifts of tropical reef fishes: a comparison of belt transect and roaming underwater visual census methods', BULLETIN OF MARINE SCIENCE, vol. 90, no. 2, pp. 705-721.
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Feary, D.A., Fowler, A.M. & Ward, T.J. 2014, 'Developing a rapid method for undertaking the World Ocean Assessment in data-poor regions - A case study using the South China Sea Large Marine Ecosystem', OCEAN & COASTAL MANAGEMENT, vol. 95, pp. 129-137.
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Sale, P.F., Agardy, T., Ainsworth, C.H., Feist, B.E., Bell, J.D., Christie, P., Hoegh-Guldberg, O., Mumby, P.J., Feary, D.A., Saunders, M.I., Daw, T.M., Foale, S.J., Levin, P.S., Lindeman, K.C., Lorenzen, K., Pomeroy, R.S., Allison, E.H., Bradbury, R.H., Corrin, J., Edwards, A.J., Obura, D.O., de Mitcheson, Y.J.S., Samoilys, M.A. & Sheppard, C.R.C. 2014, 'Transforming management of tropical coastal seas to cope with challenges of the 21st century', MARINE POLLUTION BULLETIN, vol. 85, no. 1, pp. 8-23.
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Verges, A., Steinberg, P.D., Hay, M.E., Poore, A.G.B., Campbell, A.H., Ballesteros, E., Jr, H.K.L., Booth, D.J., Coleman, M.A., Feary, D.A., Figueira, W., Langlois, T., Marzinelli, E.M., Mizerek, T., Mumby, P.J., Nakamura, Y., Roughan, M., van Sebille, E., Sen Gupta, A., Smale, D.A., Tomas, F., Wernberg, T. & Wilson, S.K. 2014, 'The tropicalization of temperate marine ecosystems: climate-mediated changes in herbivory and community phase shifts', PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B-BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES, vol. 281, no. 1789.
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Bauman, A.G., Baird, A.H., Burt, J.A., Pratchett, M.S. & Feary, D.A. 2014, 'Patterns of coral settlement in an extreme environment: the southern Persian Gulf (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)', MARINE ECOLOGY PROGRESS SERIES, vol. 499, pp. 115-126.
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Burt, J.A., Feary, D.A., Cavalcante, G., Bauman, A.G. & Usseglio, P. 2013, 'Urban breakwaters as reef fish habitat in the Persian Gulf', Marine Pollution Bulletin, vol. 72, no. 2, pp. 342-350.
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Breakwaters and related structures dominate near-shore environments in many Persian Gulf countries, but little is known of their ecology. To examine the influence of wave exposure on fish communities we surveyed exposed and sheltered breakwaters seasonally over 2 years and compared these with natural reef assemblages. Species richness and adult, juvenile, and total abundance were generally comparable among the three habitat types each season. However, differences in multivariate community structure indicated that each habitat contained a distinct assemblage, with strongest difference between sheltered breakwaters and the exposed natural reef. All communities were characterized by marked seasonality; abundance and richness were generally higher in the warmer seasons (summer, fall) than during cooler periods (winter, spring), and there were related seasonal changes in community structure, particularly on the natural reef. Results indicate that breakwaters are important fish habitats, but that breakwater communities vary with wave exposure and are distinct from natural reefs.
Feary, D.A., Burt, J., Bauman, A., Al Hazeem, S., Abdel-moati, M., Al-khalifa, K., Anderson, D., Amos, C., Baker, A., Bartholomew, A., Bento, R., Cavalcante, G., Chen, C., Coles, S., Dab, K., Fowler, A., George, D., Grandcourt, E., Hill, R., John, D.M., Jones, D.A., Keshavmurthy, S., Mahmoud, H., Tapeh, M., Mostafavi, P.G., Naser, H., Pichon, M., Purkis, S., Riegl, B., Samimi-Namin, K., Sheppard, C., Samiei, J.V., Voolstra, C.R. & Wiedenmann, J. 2013, 'Critical research needs for identifying future changes in Gulf coral reef ecosystems', Marine Pollution Bulletin, vol. 72, no. 2, pp. 406-416.
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Expert opinion was assessed to identify current knowledge gaps in determining future changes in Arabian/Persian Gulf (thereafter `Gulf) coral reefs. Thirty-one participants submitted 71 research questions that were peer-assessed in terms of scientific importance (i.e., filled a knowledge gap and was a research priority) and efficiency in resource use (i.e., was highly feasible and ecologically broad). Ten research questions, in six major research areas, were highly important for both understanding Gulf coral reef ecosystems and also an efficient use of limited research resources. These questions mirrored global evaluations of the importance of understanding and evaluating biodiversity, determining the potential impacts of climate change, the role of anthropogenic impacts in structuring coral reef communities, and economically evaluating coral reef communities. These questions provide guidance for future research on coral reef ecosystems within the Gulf, and enhance the potential for assessment and management of future changes in this globally significant region.
Pratchett, M., Hoey, A., Feary, D.A., Bauman, A., Burt, J. & Riegl, B. 2013, 'Functional composition of Chaetodon butterflyfishes at a peripheral and extreme coral reef location, the Persian Gulf', Marine Pollution Bulletin, vol. 72, no. 2, pp. 333-341.
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The functional composition of reef fish assemblages is highly conserved across large biogeographic areas, but it is unknown whether assembly rules hold at biogeographical and environmental extremes for coral reefs. This study examined the functional composition of butterflyfishes in the Persian Gulf, Musandam Peninsula, and Gulf of Oman. Only five species of butterflyfishes were recorded during this study, and mostly just in the Gulf of Oman. Unlike most locations in the IndoPacific where butterflyfish assemblages are dominated by obligate corallivores, the only obligate corallivore recorded, Chaetodon melapterus, was rare or absent at all locations. The most common and widespread species was Chaetodon nigropunctatus, which is shown to be a facultative corallivore. The diversity of butterflyfishes in the Persian Gulf is likely to have been constrained by its biogeographical history and isolation, but functional composition appears to be further affected by limited abundance of prey corals and harsh environmental conditions.
Bauman, A.G., Pratchett, S., Baird, A.H., Riegl, B., Heron, S.F. & Feary, D.A. 2013, 'Variation in the size structure of corals is related to environmental extremes in the Persian Gulf', Marine Environmental Research, vol. 84, pp. 43-50.
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The size structure of coral populations is the culmination of key demographic events, including recruitment, mortality and growth, thereby providing important insights to recent ecological dynamics. Importantly, the size structure of corals reflects both intrinsic (inherent life-history characteristics) and extrinsic (enhanced mortality due to chronic or acute disturbances) forcing on local populations, enabling post-hoc assessment of spatial and taxonomic differences in susceptibility to disturbance. This study examined the size structure of four locally abundant corals (Acropora downingi, Favia pallida, Platygyra daedalea, and massive Porites spp.) in two regions of the Persian Gulf: the southern Gulf (Dubai and Abu Dhabi) and eastern Gulf (western Musandam). Significant and consistent differences were apparent in mean colony sizes and size-distributions between regions. All corals in the southern Gulf were significantly smaller, and their size structure positively skewed and relatively more leptokurtic (i.e., peaky) compared to corals in the eastern Gulf. Sea surface temperatures, salinity, and the recent frequency of mass bleaching are all higher, in the southern Gulf, suggesting higher mortality rates and/or slower growth in these populations. Differences in size structure between locations were more pronounced than differences between species at each location, suggesting that extreme differences in environmental conditions and disturbance events have a greater influence on population dynamics in the Gulf than inherent differences in their life-history characteristics.
Bauman, A.G., Feary, D.A., Heron, S.F., Pratchett, M.S. & Burt, J.A. 2013, 'Multiple environmental factors influence the spatial distribution and structure of reef communities in the northeastern Arabian Peninsula', Marine Pollution Bulletin, vol. 72, no. 2, pp. 302-312.
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Multivariate analysis revealed distinct sub-regional coral communities among the southern Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, and Gulf of Oman. Differences in community structure among locations were associated with considerable spatial heterogeneity in oceanic conditions, and strong directional environmental gradients. Despite clear community differences, considerable changes to coral community structure have occurred throughout the northeastern Arabian Peninsula as compared with previous studies. The most dramatic of these are the apparent changes from Acropora dominated to poritid and faviid dominated communities, particularly in the southern Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz. Although temperature and salinity have previously been cited as the major environmental factors structuring coral communities around the region, additional environmental parameters, including chlorophyll-a, surface currents and winds are shown to be important in structuring reef communities throughout the northeastern Arabian Peninsula.
Ateweberhan, M., Feary, D.A., Keshavmurthy, S., Chen, A., Schleyer, M.H. & Sheppard, C. 2013, 'Climate change impacts on coral reefs: Synergies with local effects, possibilities for acclimation, and management implications', Marine Pollution Bulletin, vol. 74, no. 2, pp. 526-539.
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Most reviews concerning the impact of climate change on coral reefs discuss independent effects of warming or ocean acidification. However, the interactions between these, and between these and direct local stressors are less well addressed. This review underlines that coral bleaching, acidification, and diseases are expected to interact synergistically, and will negatively influence survival, growth, reproduction, larval development, settlement, and post-settlement development of corals. Interactions with local stress factors such as pollution, sedimentation, and overfishing are further expected to compound effects of climate change. Reduced coral cover and species composition following coral bleaching events affect coral reef fish community structure, with variable outcomes depending on their habitat dependence and trophic specialisation. Ocean acidification itself impacts fish mainly indirectly through disruption of predation and habitat-associated behavior changes. Zooxanthellate octocorals on reefs are often overlooked but are substantial occupiers of space; these also are highly susceptible to bleaching but because they tend to be more heterotrophic, climate change impacts mainly manifest in terms of changes in species composition and population structure. Non-calcifying macroalgae are expected to respond positively to ocean acidification and promote microbeinduced coral mortality via the release of dissolved compounds, thus intensifying phase-shifts from coral to macroalgal domination. Adaptation of corals to these consequences of CO2 rise through increased tolerance of corals and successful mutualistic associations between corals and zooxanthellae is likely to be insufficient to match the rate and frequency of the projected changes. Impacts are interactive and magnified, and because there is a limited capacity for corals to adapt to climate change, global targets of carbon emission reductions are insufficient for coral reefs, so lower targets should be pu...
Nakamura, Y., Feary, D.A., Kanda, M. & Yamaoka, K. 2013, 'Tropical Fishes Dominate Temperate Reef Fish Communities within Western Japan', Plos One, vol. 8, no. 12, pp. 1-8.
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Climate change is resulting in rapid poleward shifts in the geographical distribution of tropical and subtropical fish species. We can expect that such range shifts are likely to be limited by species-specific resource requirements, with temperate rocky
Cinner, J., McClanahan, T., Macneil, M., Graham, N.A., Daw, T., Mukminin, A., Feary, D.A., Rabearisoa, A., Wamukota, A., Jiddawi, N., Campbell, S.J., Baird, A.H., Januchowski-Hartley, F.A., Hamed, S., Lahari, R., Morove, T. & Kuange, J. 2012, 'Comanagement Of Coral Reef Social-Ecological Systems', Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences Of The United States Of America, vol. 109, no. 14, pp. 5219-5222.
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In an effort to deliver better outcomes for people and the ecosystems they depend on, many governments and civil society groups are engaging natural resource users in collaborative management arrangements (frequently called comanagement). However, there
Cavalcante, G.H., Kjerfve, B. & Feary, D.A. 2012, 'Examination of residence time and its relevance to water quality within a coastal mega-structure: The Palm Jumeirah Lagoon', Journal Of Hydrology, vol. 468-469, pp. 111-119.
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A numerical modeling study was carried out to compute average residence time in the semi-enclosed lagoon formed by the man-made island Palm Jumeirah (Dubai, United Arab Emirates), termed Palm Jumeirah Lagoon (PJL). The PJL encompasses a main island axis with 17 `fronds radiating from this axis, all encapsulated within a semi-circular breakwater system. A coupled hydrodynamic and solute transport model was developed for the waters of the PJL, based on depth-integrated conservation equations. Numerical model predictions were then verified against a set of field-measured hydrodynamic data. Model-predicted water elevations and velocities were in good agreement with field measurements. Residence times for this tidal dominated system were investigated through numerical experiments using a conservative tracer as a surrogate. The results indicated that average residence time varied spatially throughout the PJL depending on tidal flushing. Average residence time was unequally distributed throughout the PJL, with the eastern side showing higher flushing times than the western side. In addition, there were also differences between sections of the PJL in average residence time of a tracer: between frond tips and the surrounding breakwater the tracer was reduced to 3040% of its original value after approximately 1 week, while a tracer placed between the fronds was reduced to 3040% of its value after 20 days. The findings of this research provide vital information for understanding the water transport process in this man-made lagoon, and will be important in assessing the potential impact on coastal water quality conditions in coastal developments within the Middle East.
Feary, D.A., Cinner, J.E., Cinner, J.E., Graham, N.A. & Januchowski-Hartley, F.A. 2011, 'Effects of customary marine closures on fish behavior, spear-fishing success, and underwater visual surveys', Conservation Biology, vol. 25, no. 2.
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Customary management systems (i.e., management systems that limit the use of marine resources), such as rotational fisheries closures, can limit harvest of resources. Nevertheless, the explicit goals of customary management are often to influence fish behavior (in particular flight distance, i.e., distance at which an organism begins to flee an approaching threat), rather than fish abundance. We explored whether the flight distance of reef fishes targeted by local artisanal fishers differed between a customary closure and fished reefs. We also examined whether flight distance of these species affected fishing success and accuracy of underwater visual census (UVC) between customary closed areas and areas open to fishing. Several species demonstrated significant differences in flight distance between areas, indicating that fishing activity may increase flight distance. These relatively long flight distances mean that in fished areas most target species may stay out of the range of spear fishers. In addition, mean flight distances for all species both inside and outside the customary-closure area were substantially smaller than the observation distance of an observer conducting a belt-transect UVC (mean [SE]= 8.8 m [0.48]). For targeted species that showed little ability to evade spear fishers, customary closures may be a vital management technique. Our results show that customary closures can have a substantial, positive effect on resource availability and that conventional UVC techniques may be insensitive to changes in flight behavior of fishes associated with fishing. We argue that short, periodic openings of customary closures may allow the health of the fish community to be maintained and local fishers to effectively harvest fishes.
Sale, P.F., Feary, D.A., Burt, J.A., Bauman, A.G., Cavalcante, G.H., Drouillard, K.G., Kjerfve, B., Marquis, E., Trick, C.G., Usseglio, P. & Van Lavieren, H. 2011, 'The growing need for sustainable ecological management of marine communities of the Persian Gulf', Ambio, vol. 40, pp. 4-17.
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The Persian Gulf is a semi-enclosed marine system surrounded by eight countries, many of which are experiencing substantial development. It is also a major center for the oil industry. The increasing array of anthropogenic disturbances may have substantial negative impacts on marine ecosystems, but this has received little attention until recently. We review the available literature on the Gulfs marine environment and detail our recent experience in the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) to evaluate the role of anthropogenic disturbance in this marine ecosystem. Extensive coastal development may now be the single most important anthropogenic stressor.
Mora, C., Aburto-Oropeza, O., Bocos, A.A., Ayotte, P.M., Banks, S., Bauman, A.G., Beger, M., Bessudo, S., Booth, D.J., Brokovich, E., Brooks, A., Chabanet, P., Cinner, J.E., Cortes, J., Cruz-Motta, J.J., Magana, A.C., DeMartini, E.E., Edgar, G.J., Feary, D.A., Ferse, S.C., Friedlander, A.M., Gaston, K.J., Gough, C., Graham, N.A., Green, A., Guzman, H., Hardt, M., Kulbicki, M., Letourneur, Y., Perez, A.L., Loreau, M., Loya, Y., Martinez, C., Mascarenas-Osorio, I., Morove, T., Nadon, M., Nakamura, Y., Paredes, G., Polunin, N.V., Pratchett, M.S., Bonilla, H.R., Rivera, F., Sala, E., Sandin, S.A., Soler, G., Smith, R.S., Tessier, E., Tittensor, D.P., Tupper, M., Usseglio, P., Vigliola, L., Wantiez, L., Williams, I., Wilson, S.A. & Zapata, F.A. 2011, 'Global human footprint on the linkage between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in reef fishes', Plos Biology, vol. 9, no. 4, pp. 1-9.
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Difficulties in scaling up theoretical and experimental results have raised controversy over the consequences of biodiversity loss for the functioning of natural ecosystems. Using a global survey of reef fish assemblages, we show that in contrast to previous theoretical and experimental studies, ecosystem functioning (as measured by standing biomass) scales in a nonsaturating manner with biodiversity (as measured by species and functional richness) in this ecosystem. Our field study also shows a significant and negative interaction between human population density and biodiversity on ecosystem functioning (i.e., for the same human density there were larger reductions in standing biomass at more diverse reefs). Human effects were found to be related to fishing, coastal development, and land use stressors, and currently affect over 75% of the worlds coral reefs. Our results indicate that the consequences of biodiversity loss in coral reefs have been considerably underestimated based on existing knowledge and that reef fish assemblages, particularly the most diverse, are greatly vulnerable to the expansion and intensity of anthropogenic stressors in coastal areas.
Januchowski-Hartley, F.A., Graham, N.A., Feary, D.A., Morove, T. & Cinner, J.E. 2011, 'Fear of fishers: Human predation explains behavioral changes in coral reef fishes', PLoS ONE, vol. 6, no. 8, pp. 1-10.
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Prey flight decisions in response to predation risk are increasingly being considered in conservation and management decisions in the terrestrial realm, but are rarely considered in marine systems. This field-based study investigated how the behavioral response of coral reef fish families varied along a gradient of subsistence fishing pressure in Papua New Guinea. Specifically, we examined how fishing pressure was related to pre-flight behavior and flight initiation distance (FID), and whether FID was influenced by body size (centimeters total length), group size (including both con- and hetero-specific individuals), or life-history phase. Fishing pressure was positively associated with higher FID, but only in families that were primarily targeted by spear guns. Among these families, there were variable responses in FID; some families showed increased FID monotonically with fishing pressure, while others showed increased FID only at the highest levels of fishing pressure. Body size was more significant in varying FID at higher levels of fishing pressure. Although family-level differences in pre-flight behavior were reported, such behavior showed low concordance with fishing pressure. FID shows promise as a tool by which compliance and effectiveness of management of reef fisheries can be assessed.
Burt, J.A., Feary, D.A., Bauman, A.G., Usseglio, P., Cavalcante, G.H. & Sale, P.F. 2011, 'Biogeographic patterns of reef fish community structure in the northeastern Arabian Peninsula', ICES Journal of Marine Science, vol. 68, no. 9, pp. 1875-1883.
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This study provides the first large-scale comparison of reef-associated fish communities in the northeastern Arabian Peninsula, with 24 sites spanning >3000 km of coastline in the southern Persian Gulf, the western Gulf of Oman, and the northwestern Arabian Sea, each with its own unique environmental conditions. Multivariate analyses revealed three distinct community types that were represented mainly by sites within each major water body, with >70% dissimilarity in community structure between each. Persian Gulf communities had low species richness, abundance, and biomass of reef fish compared with the other subregions, with communities dominated by herbivores and generalist predators that had little association with live coral. Reef fish biomass in the Gulf of Oman and Arabian Sea was comparable, and communities were dominated by fish with moderate coral association. However, there were relatively more herbivores and larger fish in the Arabian Sea than in the Gulf of Oman, where communities were dominated by planktivores. Species richness was highest in the Arabian Sea when differences in abundance among regions were accounted for. The influence of distinct environmental and oceanographic conditions on reef fish community structure in each of these areas is discussed.
Feary, D.A., Burt, J.A. & Bartholomew, A. 2011, 'Artificial marine habitats in the Arabian Gulf: Review of current use, benefits and management implications', Ocean & Coastal Management, vol. 54, pp. 742-749.
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The use of artificial reefs in the Arabian Gulf have a history extending back over a century, when date palm trunks, stones, pottery and other materials were sunk in coastal areas to enhance fish catch. Historically, such artificial reefs formed an important component of the socio-economic development of coastal fisheries. In comparison, modern artificial reefs have taken on a variety of forms. The most widely recognized are purpose-build modular artificial reefs designed for the enhancement of fisheries yield, diving, and various other benefits. However, far more common within the Gulf are the large-scale unplanned artificial reefs that have been formed as a result of human activities in the marine system, such as large-scale coastal breakwaters, seawalls, jetties, pipelines, and oil and gas infrastructure. Although there is limited information on the role of these constructions in structuring Gulf marine communities, increasing evidence suggests that abundant and diverse communities of reef fish, coral and other benthos can develop on these structures, with important ecological implications in urbanized coastal areas in the Gulf. However, due to a variety of unintended consequences of artificial reef development such structures may also pose challenges to coastal marine management. We review the current published literature on artificial reefs in the Gulf in order to improve our understanding of the role that these structures play in Gulf coastal ecosystems, and to further develop regional management of artificial reefs. We explore the various types of artificial reef that exist in the Gulf and examine the benefits and challenges that these structures represent for coastal ecology and economics. Such information is essential for our improved understanding and management of these increasingly important ecosystems in the Gulf.
Cavalcante, G.H., Kjerfve, B., Feary, D.A., Bauman, A.G. & Usseglio, P. 2011, 'Water currents and water budget in a coastal megastructure, Palm Jumeirah Lagoon, Dubai, UAE', Journal of Coastal Research, vol. 27, no. 2, pp. 384-393.
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Bauman, A., Burt, J., Feary, D.A., Marquis, E. & Usseglio, P. 2010, 'Tropical harmful algal blooms: An emerging threat to coral reef communities?', Marine Pollution Bulletin, vol. 60, no. 11, pp. 2117-2122.
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Tropical harmful algal blooms (HABs) are increasing in frequency and intensity and are substantially affecting marine communities. In October/November 2008 a large-scale HAB event (> 500 km(2), dinoflagellate Cochlodinium polykrikoides) in the Gulf of Om
Wilson, S., Adjeroud, M., Bellwood, D., Berumen, M., Booth, D.J., Bozec, Y., Chabanet, P., Cheal, A., Cinner, J., Depczynski, M., Feary, D.A., Gagliano, M., Graham, N., Halford, A., Halpern, B., Harborne, A., Hoey, A., Holbrook, S., Jones, G., Kulbiki, M., Letoourneur, Y., de Loma, T.L., McClanahan, T., Mccormick, M.I., Meekan, M., Mumby, P.J., Munday, P.L., Ohman, M.C., Pratchett, M., Riegl, B., Sano, M., Schmitt, R.J. & Syms, C. 2010, 'Crucial knowledge gaps in current understanding of climate change impacts on coral reef fishes', Journal of Experimental Biology, vol. 213, no. 6, pp. 894-900.
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Expert opinion was canvassed to identify crucial knowledge gaps in current understanding of climate change impacts on coral reef fishes. Scientists that had published three or more papers on the effects of climate and environmental factors on reef fishes
Cavalcante, G., Kjerfve, B., Knoppers, B. & Feary, D.A. 2010, 'Coastal currents adjacent to the Caete Estuary, Para Region, North Brazil', Estuarine Coastal And Shelf Science, vol. 88, no. 1, pp. 84-90.
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We examined and compared tidal currents and water column structure between a near-shore station (12 km from the coast) and an offshore station (32 km from the coast) adjacent to the Caete River, Para Region, Brazil. Although the coastal system of Para is
Burt, J., Feary, D.A., Usseglio, P., Bauman, A.G. & Sale, P.F. 2010, 'The influence of wave exposure on coral community development on man-made breakwater reefs, with a comparison to a natural reef', Bulletin of Marine Science, vol. 86, no. 4, pp. 839-859.
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Breakwaters dominate shorelines in many coastal urban areas, providing substantial hard-bottom habitat upon which diverse and abundant reef communities develop. In recognition of their potential ecological and economic importance, there is increasing interest in understanding how design features can influence community development. We investigated the influence of wave exposure on breakwater coral communities in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Coral community composition, cover, size structure, recruitment, mortality, and growth rates were compared quarterly between two windward and two leeward breakwater sites for 1 yr to explore the influence of wave exposure on coral community development. Comparisons also were made with a natural coral reef to gain an understanding of how community structure and dynamics compare between these habitats. Benthic and water column sediment particle sizes were also analyzed. Leeward breakwaters contained a low-cover coral community dominated by small colonies with high mortality compared with windward breakwaters and the natural reef. Windward breakwater coral communities had comparable recruitment, mortality, and growth rates as the natural reef. Fine sediments (< 63 &micro;m) dominated the benthos and water column on leeward breakwaters, while windward breakwaters and the natural reef were dominated by sediments with larger size classes (> 125 &micro;m), likely as a result of differences in wave action among reef types.
Feary, D.A., Burt, J., Bauman, A., Usseglio, P., Sale, P. & Cavalcante, G. 2010, 'Fish communities on the world's warmest reefs: what can they tell us about the effects of climate change in the future?', Journal Of Fish Biology, vol. 77, no. 8, pp. 1931-1947.
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To examine the role of climatic extremes in structuring reef fish communities in the Arabian region, reef fish communities were visually surveyed at four sites within the southern Persian Gulf (also known as the Arabian Gulf and The Gulf), where sea-surf
Feary, D.A., Wellenreuther, M. & Clements, K. 2009, 'Trophic ecology of New Zealand triplefin fishes (Family Tripterygiidae)', Marine Biology, vol. 156, no. 8, pp. 1703-1714.
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In many vertebrate radiations, food partitioning among closely related taxa is a key factor in both the maintenance of species diversity and the process of diversification. We compared diet composition and jaw morphology of 18 New Zealand triplefin speci
Feary, D.A., Mccormick, M.I. & Jones, G. 2009, 'Growth of reef fishes in response to live coral cover', Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, vol. 373, no. 1, pp. 45-49.
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Although the global decline in coral reef health is likely to have profound effects on reef associated fishes, these effects are poorly understood. While declining coral cover can reduce the abundance of reef fishes through direct effects on recruitment
Hobbs, J.A., Choat, J.H., Robbins, W.D., Ayling, A.M., van Herwerden, L. & Feary, D.A. 2008, 'Unique fish assemblages at world's southernmost oceanic coral reefs, Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs, Tasman Sea, Australia', Coral Reefs, vol. 27, no. 1, pp. 15-15.
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Located in the northern Tasman Sea, 600 km east of Australia, Elizabeth (2956&cent;S, 15905&cent;E.) and Middleton Reefs (2927&cent;S, 15907&cent;E) form the southernmost oceanic platform coral reefs in the world (Oxley et al. 2004). Previous surveys indicated an unusual ?sh fauna at these reefs (Australian Museum 1992; Oxley et al. 2004). Further detailed underwater surveys of the ?sh fauna conducted in February 2006 and 2007 con?rmed that the combination of geographic location, isolation and the convergence of tropical and temperate waters have produced a unique ?sh assemblage comprising tropical, temperate and endemic species
Feary, D.A. 2007, 'The influence of resource specialization on the response of reef fish to coral disturbance', Marine Biology, vol. 153, no. 2, pp. 153-161.
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Ecological theory predicts that habitat generalists are less prone to decline or extinction in response to habitat disturbance than habitat specialists. One mechanism that may afford habitat generalists greater persistence is their ability to successfull
Feary, D.A., Almany, G., Mccormick, M.I. & Jones, G. 2007, 'Habitat choice, recruitment and the response of coral reef fishes to coral degradation', Oecologia, vol. 153, no. 3, pp. 727-737.
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The global degradation of coral reefs is having profound effects on the structure and species richness of associated reef fish assemblages. Historically, variation in the composition of fish communities has largely been attributed to factors affecting se
Feary, D.A., Almany, G., Jones, G. & Mccormick, M.I. 2007, 'Coral degradation and the structure of tropical reef fish communities', Marine Ecology Progress Series, vol. 333, no. 1, pp. 243-248.
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Coral reefs can be degraded by a variety of perturbations, including bleaching and predation by crown-of-thorns starfish. The combination of these disturbances has contributed to a global decline of live coral cover on reefs. While the effects of bleachi
Feary, D.A. & Clements, K. 2006, 'Habitat use by triplefin species (Tripterygiidae) on rocky reefs in New Zealand', Journal Of Fish Biology, vol. 69, no. 4, pp. 1031-1046.
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Habitat use and nesting sites of 12 triplefin species (Tripterygiidae) were investigated at 26 coastal and offshore rocky reef locations in north-eastern New Zealand. Within these locations, 17 broad-scale habitats and 14 fine-scale habitats were surveye
Anderson, M., Ford, R., Feary, D.A. & Honeywill, C. 2004, 'Quantitative measures of sedimentation in an estuarine system and its relationship with intertidal soft-sediment infauna', Marine Ecology Progress Series, vol. 272, no. 1, pp. 33-48.
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Increased sedimentation from changes in land use in coastal areas is a potentially important impact of human urbanisation. The potential impact of sedimentation on benthic infauna was quantitatively investigated in the Okura estuary, which is at the nort