Fishing pressure and abundance in humphead wrasse and bumphead parrotfish

Project Description: Linkages between specific populations, their behaviour, and their responses to anthropogenic pressures such as fishing are important for conservation and management efforts. In the case of fishing pressure, species of fish with a tendency to aggregate may be more susceptible to fishing pressure than species whose populations are naturally sparse. The humphead wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus) and the bumphead parrotfish (Bolbometopon muricatum) are two large, iconic species of coral reef fish. The bumphead parrotfish forms large aggregations of up to 40 individuals to eat, sleep and spawn, whereas the humphead wrasse are mostly solitary, only periodically forming aggregations for spawning. The prolific aggregations exhibited by the bumphead parrotfish may potentially render its populations more susceptible to rapid declines due to intense fishing. This project draws together contributors from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Mathematical and Statistical Frontiers, the Institute for Future Environments, The Nature Conservancy, and the Quantitative Applied Spatial Ecology group. Using survey data from a night spearfishery in the Kia District, Solomon Islands, it aims to assess whether the humphead wrasse and bumphead parrotfish exhibit different susceptibilities to fishing pressure as a result of their behaviours.

Publication: Pearse, A. R., Hamilton, R. J., Choat, J. H., Pita, J., Almany, G., Peterson, N., … & Peterson, E. E. (2018). Giant coral reef fishes display markedly different susceptibility to night spearfishing. Ecology and Evolution. doi: 10.1002/ece3.4501

Funding / Grants

  • QUT Vacation Research Scholarship