Aaron Macneil

Aaron Macneil
Dalhousie University | Dal · Department of Biology

PhD

About

124
Publications
56,072
Reads
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8,544
Citations
Additional affiliations
January 2012 - January 2017
James Cook University
Position
  • Principal Investigator
January 2010 - December 2012
University of Windsor
January 2008 - June 2017
Australian Institute of Marine Science
Position
  • Senior Researcher

Publications

Publications (124)
Preprint
Full-text available
Sustainably managing fisheries requires regular and reliable evaluation of stock status. However, most multispecies reef fisheries around the globe tend to be data-poor and lack research and monitoring capacity (e.g., long-term fishery data), preventing the estimation of sustainable reference points against which stocks can be assessed. Here, combi...
Article
Ecologists are often interested in answering causal questions from observational data but generally lack the training to appropriately infer causation. When applying statistical analysis (e.g., generalized linear model) on observational data, common statistical adjustments can often lead to biased estimates between variables of interest due to proc...
Article
Marine fisheries have a long history of exploitation, with the potential to shape many life history traits, particularly those that are heritable, such as age and size at maturity. Here, we analyze 43 marine fish stocks, using prewhitened cross-correlations, to examine the relationship between past levels of fishing mortality (F) and resulting shif...
Article
Full-text available
Alteration of benthic reef habitat after coral bleaching and mortality induces changes in fish assemblages, with implications for fisheries. Our understanding of climate impacts to coral reef fisheries is largely based on fish abundance and biomass. The rates at which biomass is produced and replenished (productivity and turnover) are also importan...
Article
Full-text available
Ecologists often rely on observational data to understand causal relationships. Although observational causal inference methodologies exist, predictive techniques such as model selection based on information criterion (e.g. AIC) remains a common approach used to understand ecological relationships. However, predictive approaches are not appropriate...
Article
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Significance The world produces enough food to nourish the global population, but inequitable distribution of food means many people remain at risk for undernutrition. Attainment of Sustainable Development Goal 2 relies on greater attention to distribution processes that match food qualities with dietary deficiencies. We explore this in the context...
Article
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Recent developments in computer science have substantially advanced the use of observational causal inference under Pearl's structural causal model (SCM) framework. A key tool in the application of SCM is the use of casual diagrams, used to visualize the causal structure of a system or process under study. Here, we show how causal diagrams can be e...
Article
Climate‐induced coral bleaching events are a leading threat to coral reef ecosystems and can result in coral–macroalgal regime shifts that are difficult to reverse. It is unclear how different factors causally influence regime shift or recovery trajectories after a bleaching event. Here, we use structural causal modeling (SCM) and its application o...
Article
Full-text available
Wild-caught fish are a bioavailable source of nutritious food that, if managed strategically , could enhance diet quality for billions of people. However, optimising nutrient production from the sea has not been a priority, hindering development of nutrition-sensitive policies. With fisheries management increasingly effective at rebuilding stocks a...
Article
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Climate change is transforming coral reefs, threatening supply of essential dietary micronutrients from small-scale fisheries to tropical coastal communities. Yet the nutritional value of reef fisheries and climate impacts on micronutrient availability remain unclear, hindering efforts to sustain food and nutrition security. Here, we measure nutrie...
Article
As climate change accelerates, species are shifting poleward and subtropical and tropical species are colonizing temperate environments. A popular approach for characterizing such responses is the community temperature index (CTI), which tracks the mean thermal affinity of a community. Studies in marine, freshwater, and terrestrial ecosystems have...
Article
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Fish are rich in bioavailable micronutrients, such as zinc and iron, deficiencies of which are a global food security concern.¹,² Global marine fisheries yields are threatened by climate change and overfishing,³,⁴ yet understanding of how these stressors affect the nutrients available from fisheries is lacking.⁵,⁶ Here, using global assessments of...
Article
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Significance Biogeography has focused extensively on species identities, yet global patterns in species traits (morphological, physiological, or behavioral features) are not well known, including whether they are shaped by modern environmental conditions or by shared evolutionary history. Our global analysis of nearly 3,000 reef fish species found...
Article
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Proximity and size of the nearest market (‘market gravity’) have been shown to have strong negative effects on coral reef fish communities that can be mitigated by the establishment of closed areas. However, moray eels are functionally unique predators that are generally not subject to targeted fishing and should therefore not directly be affected...
Article
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An Amendment to this paper has been published and can be accessed via a link at the top of the paper.
Article
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Decades of overexploitation have devastated shark populations, leaving considerable doubt as to their ecological status1,2. Yet much of what is known about sharks has been inferred from catch records in industrial fisheries, whereas far less information is available about sharks that live in coastal habitats³. Here we address this knowledge gap usi...
Article
A complex landscape for reef management Coral reefs are among the most biodiverse systems in the ocean, and they provide both food and ecological services. They are also highly threatened by climate change and human pressure. Cinner et al. looked at how best to maximize three key components of reef use and health: fish biomass, parrotfish grazing,...
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Nutrient content analyses of marine finfish and current fisheries landings show that fish have the potential to substantially contribute to global food and nutrition security by alleviating micronutrient deficiencies in regions where they are prevalent.
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Threats from climate change and other human pressures have led to widespread concern for the future of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef (GBR). Resilience of GBR reefs will be determined by their ability to resist disturbances and to recover from coral loss, generating intense interest in management actions that can moderate these processes. Here we q...
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In the face of increasing cumulative effects from human and natural disturbances, sustaining coral reefs will require a deeper understanding of the drivers of coral resilience in space and time. Here we develop a high‐resolution, spatially explicit model of coral dynamics on Australia's Great Barrier Reef (GBR). Our model accounts for biological, e...
Article
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This data compilation synthesizes 36 static environmental and spatial variables, and temporally explicit modeled estimates of three major disturbances to coral cover on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR): (1) coral bleaching, (2) tropical cyclones, and (3) outbreaks of the coral‐eating crown‐of‐thorns starfish Acanthaster cf. solaris. Data are provided o...
Article
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Biotic connectivity between ecosystems can provide major transport of organic matter and nutrients, influencing ecosystem structure and productivity1, yet the implications are poorly understood owing to human disruptions of natural flows2. When abundant, seabirds feeding in the open ocean transport large quantities of nutrients onto islands, enhanc...
Article
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Coral reefs provide ecosystem goods and services for millions of people in the tropics, but reef conditions are declining worldwide. Effective solutions to the crisis facing coral reefs depend in part on understanding the context under which different types of conservation benefits can be maximized. Our global analysis of nearly 1,800 tropical reef...
Article
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Ecological monitoring programs typically aim to detect changes in the abundance of species of conservation concern or which reflect system status. Coral reef fish assemblages are functionally important for reef health and these are most commonly monitored using underwater visual surveys (UVS) by divers. In addition to estimating numbers, most progr...
Data
UVS fish data Davies Reef. Raw data obtained during underwater visual surveys of reef fishes at Davies Reef, Central GBR.
Article
Full-text available
Ecosystems are becoming vastly modified through disturbance. In coral reef ecosystems, the differential susceptibility of coral taxa to climate-driven bleaching is predicted to shift coral assemblages towards reefs with an increased relative abundance of taxa with high thermal tolerance. Many thermally tolerant coral species are characterised by lo...
Article
Estimates of fish biomass collated at the community level are reliable indicators of fish and ecosystem health. Data to calculate fish biomass is routinely collected using either underwater visual census (UVC) or stereo diver operated video (DOV), although the compatibility of UVC and DOV based estimates are yet to be assessed. Accordingly, we calc...
Article
Predator populations are in decline globally. Exploitation, as well as habitat degradation and associated changes in prey availability are key drivers of this process of trophic downgrading. In the short term, longevity and dietary adaptability of large-bodied consumers can mask potential sub-lethal effects of a changing prey base, producing a dela...
Article
Regime shifts between alternative stable ecosystem states are becoming commonplace due to the combined effects of local stressors and global climate change. Alternative states are characterised as substantially different in form and function to pre-disturbance states, disrupting the delivery of ecosystem services and functions. On coral reefs, regi...
Article
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Diet specificity is likely to be the key predictor of a predator's vulnerability to changing habitat and prey conditions. Understanding the degree to which predatory coral reef fishes adjust or maintain prey choice, in response to declines in coral cover and changes in prey availability, is critical for predicting how they may respond to reef habit...
Article
Ocean warming under climate change threatens coral reefs directly, through fatal heat stress to corals and indirectly, by boosting the energy of cyclones that cause coral destruction and loss of associated organisms. Although cyclone frequency is unlikely to rise, cyclone intensity is predicted to increase globally, causing more frequent occurrence...
Article
The distribution of biomass among trophic levels provides a theoretical basis for understanding energy flow and the hierarchical structure of animal communities. In the absence of energy subsidies [1], bottom-heavy trophic pyramids are expected to predominate, based on energy transfer efficiency [2] and empirical evidence from multiple ecosystems [...
Article
Shifting prey distributions due to global warming are expected to generate dramatic ecosystem-wide changes in trophic structure within Arctic marine ecosystems. Yet a relatively poor understanding of contemporary Arctic food webs makes it difficult to predict the consequences of such changes for Arctic predators. Doing so requires quantitative appr...
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Full-text available
Crown-of-thorns starfish (CoTS; Acanthaster spp. ) are an outbreaking pest among many Indo-Pacific coral reefs that cause substantial ecological and economic damage. Despite ongoing CoTS research, there remain critical gaps in observing CoTS populations and accurately estimating their numbers, greatly limiting understanding of the causes and source...
Article
Full-text available
Ongoing declines in the structure and function of the world's coral reefs require novel approaches to sustain these ecosystems and the millions of people who depend on them. A presently unexplored approach that draws on theory and practice in human health and rural development is to systematically identify and learn from the 'outliers'-places where...
Preprint
Full-text available
Crown-of-thorns starfish (CoTS; Acanthaster spp. ) are an outbreaking pest among many Indo-Pacific coral reefs that cause substantial ecological and economic damage. Despite ongoing CoTS research there remain critical gaps in observing CoTS populations and accurately estimating their numbers, greatly limiting understanding of the causes and sources...
Preprint
Full-text available
Crown-of-thorns starfish (CoTS; Acanthaster spp. ) are an outbreaking pest among many Indo-Pacific coral reefs that cause substantial ecological and economic damage. Despite ongoing CoTS research there remain critical gaps in observing CoTS populations and accurately estimating their numbers, greatly limiting understanding of the causes and sources...
Article
Full-text available
With marine biodiversity declining globally at accelerating rates, maximising the effectiveness of conservation has become a key goal for local, national and international regulators. Marine protected areas (MPAs) have been widely advocated for conserving and managing marine biodiversity yet, despite extensive research, their benefits for conservin...
Article
Full-text available
With marine biodiversity declining globally at accelerating rates, maximising the effectiveness of conservation has become a key goal for local, national and international regulators. Marine protected areas (MPAs) have been widely advocated for conserving and managing marine biodiversity yet, despite extensive research, their benefits for conservin...
Article
Continuing degradation of coral reef ecosystems has generated substantial interest in how management can support reef resilience. Fishing is the primary source of diminished reef function globally, leading to widespread calls for additional marine reserves to recover fish biomass and restore key ecosystem functions. Yet there are no established bas...
Article
Networks of no-take marine reserves (NTMRs) are widely advocated for preserving exploited fish stocks and for conserving biodiversity. We used underwater visual surveys of coral reef fish and benthic communities to quantify the short- to medium-term (5 to 30 years) ecological effects of the establishment of NTMRs within the Great Barrier Reef Marin...
Article
Full-text available
Climate-induced coral bleaching is among the greatest current threats to coral reefs, causing widespread loss of live coral cover1. Conditions under which reefs bounce back from bleaching events or shift from coral to algal dominance are unknown, making it difficult to predict and plan for differing reef responses under climate change2. Here we doc...
Chapter
The primary measurement made of reef fishes is abundance, which is used to compare populations and understand the processes affecting their dynamics. Abundance is typically expressed as counts of individuals or total biomass, conveying distinct but related information about the state of a fish population or community at a given point in time. Total...
Article
The failure of fisheries management among multispecies coral reef fisheries is well documented and has dire implications for the 100 million people engaged in these small-scale operations. Weak or missing management institutions, a lack of research capacity, and the complex nature of these ecosystems have heralded a call for ecosystem-based managem...
Article
Full-text available
White sharks are highly migratory and segregate by sex, age and size. Unlike marine mammals, they neither surface to breathe nor frequent haul-out sites, hindering generation of abundance data required to estimate population size. A recent tag-recapture study used photographic identifications of white sharks at two aggregation sites to estimate abu...
Article
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Explaining patterns of commonness and rarity is fundamental for understanding and managing biodiversity. Consequently, a key test of biodiversity theory has been how well ecological models reproduce empirical distributions of species abundances. However, ecological models with very different assumptions can predict similar species abundance distrib...
Article
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Measures of trophic position (TP) are critical for understanding food web interactions and human-mediated ecosystem disturbance. Nitrogen stable isotopes (δ(15) N) provide a powerful tool to estimate TP but are limited by a pragmatic assumption that isotope discrimination is constant (change in δ(15) N between predator and prey, Δ(15) N = 3.4‰), re...
Article
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Reference points are specific values related to the state of a resource to which targets and limits for harvest management can be set. Although reference points evolved within fisheries science, they are likely to be widely applicable across a range of ecosystems and environments, as the principles behind their development and implementation apply...
Article
Collaborative management arrangements are increasingly being used in fisheries, yet critical questions remain about the conditions under which these are most successful. Here, we conduct one of the first comprehensive tests of Elinor Ostrom's diagnostic framework for analyzing social–ecological systems to examine how 16 socioeconomic and institutio...