Measuring species-specific impacts of herbivorous fishes on coral reefs in American Samoa to understand ecosystem effects of herbivore fisheries management

Award Period
Award Amount
Agency Name
Natl Fish And Wildlife Foundation
Award Number
PI First Name
PI Last Name
Thomas Adam
Area/s of Research
Marine Conservation, Policy and Education

There has been dramatic loss of corals on reefs worldwide due to anthropogenic factors such as climate change and overfishing. In American Samoa, coral reefs are critical for inshore fisheries and coastal protection as well as of important cultural significance. Similar to reefs worldwide, reefs in American Samoa are also impacted by overfishing resulting in diminished herbivorous fish abundance (e.g., parrotfishes, surgeonfishes, rabbitfishes) and diversity along with increasing macroalgal cover and declining coral abundance. The three objectives of this project are to: 1) derive estimates of key herbivory parameters from dominant species of herbivores on coral reefs of American Samoa, 2) quantify variability in herbivory parameters among sites and habitats, and 3) combine this information with monitoring data (e.g., NOAA’s Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center) to estimate the ecological impacts of herbivores across American Samoa. This information will improve our ability to predict the assemblagelevel ecological impacts of herbivorous fishes on reefs of American Samoa. Ultimately, we hope to link these data with population-fishery models to estimate changes in ecological impact that would result from changes in fishery management strategies. This information will provide concrete information to managers on the relative importance and the potential positive and negative impacts of different fisheries management actions for herbivorous fishes.