Coral Reefs

, Volume 35, Issue 2, pp 421–425

Parrotfish sex ratios recover rapidly in Bermuda following a fishing ban

  • Shay O’Farrell
  • Brian E. Luckhurst
  • Stephen J. Box
  • Peter J. Mumby


Parrotfishes are an ecologically and commercially important teleost group whose grazing contributes to maintaining coral-dominated states on hermatypic reefs. However, overfishing has skewed sex ratios of Atlantic parrotfishes because fishing has disproportionate impacts on larger individuals, and males are generally larger than females. Whether protection from fishing may allow sex ratios to return to equilibrium is unknown, as fishing can induce irreversible ecological and/or evolutionary shifts. Bermuda banned trap fishing in 1990, creating a unique opportunity to analyse long-term responses of Atlantic parrotfishes to release from fishing. We found that sex ratios of four common parrotfishes were initially skewed, with male proportions ranging from 0.04 to 0.18. However, male proportions rebounded within 3–4 yr, equilibrating at values ranging from 0.36 to 0.54, similar to those reported at unfished sites in the region. Our results are encouraging for regional efforts to recover lost grazing function by restoring overfished herbivore populations.


Coral reefs Fishing Fish traps Ecosystem-based management Herbivory Scarinae 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Biological SciencesThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.Smithsonian Marine StationFort PierceUSA
  3. 3.Department of Environmental Science and PolicyUniversity of California DavisDavisUSA
  4. 4.Division of FisheriesCrawlBermuda
  5. 5.AcqualoretoItaly
  6. 6.Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef StudiesThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

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