Organizers: David R Bellwood1, Chris HR Goatley1 & Deron Burkepile2

Affiliations: 1/ College of Science and Engineering & ARC Centre of Excellence, James Cook University, Townsville, Australia & Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology, University of California, Santa Barbara, USA

Email: David.bellwood@jcu.edu.au; christopher.goatley@jcu.edu.au; deron.burkepile@lifesci.ucsb.edu

Lead contact: David Bellwood – thebellwoodreeffishlab.com

Description : This session will ask the question: what do fishes do on, and for, coral reefs? Fishes play numerous roles in ecosystem processes. The evolution of new fish groups has shaped reef development, and today fishes play pivotal roles in maintaining coral reef ecosystems in the face of climate change and other anthropogenic impacts. This session will encompass all of the important functions that fishes play on coral reefs, from predation and herbivory through to bioerosion and nutrient transfer. It will look at fishes as functional units that can shape the way that reefs operate. Human activity is changing coral reefs and fishes are both indicators of environmental change and a focus of human pressure, as a result of fishing activity. Our understanding of reefs in the past and future is contingent on our ability to comprehend the ecosystem processes which maintain them. The overarching goal of this session, therefore, is to identify the roles that fishes play on coral reefs so that we may better protect critical functional groups to ensure the future of coral reefs and the people who depend on them.

Expected Audience : This is a particularly broad interdisciplinary session and a large audience is anticipated. It will be of interest to a wide variety of ecologists and offers managers an opportunity to explore the implications of human activity on marine systems. The focus is undoubtedly on coral reef but the topics are of such interest and import that a broader audience is anticipated. The session topics were specifically selected to encompass a broad range of ecological roles. This session, therefore, can incorporate everything from nutrient transfer to fisheries, MPAs to paleoecology. Indeed one of the greatest problems may be an overabundance of abstracts. The co-organizers bring a wealth of experience and an international perspective with experience in all three of the world’s tropical ocean basins. If successful, our goal will be to provide a diverse and exciting array of talks. Based on the recent ICRS in Hawaii talks by the leading researchers may expect an audience of several hundred while regular talks were consistently over 50 people.