2013 Expedition

Coral reef ecosystems are among the most diverse and productive ecosystems on the planet yet they are suffering significant declines due to human impacts. Because many people depend on reefs and reef fisheries for their livelihoods it is highly important to gain a better understanding of how reef fisheries work. In previous research we were able to document how coral reef ecosystem productivity varied across the Northern Line Islands including islands with and without human habitation. We found that in general reef fishery productivity was lower in systems that are heavily fished. In this upcoming expedition we seek to investigate the complementary question – how does reef ecosystem productivity vary across natural conditions? We will isolate the effects of natural variability by studying a series of uninhabited islands in the Southern Line Islands group. In order to develop effective conservation targets and management strategies we need to know the range of possibility for fisheries across natural gradients in oceanography in the absence of people.

Hanse Explorerschool of fish