Rick D. Stuart‐Smith

Rick D. Stuart‐Smith
University of Tasmania · Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS)

About

148
Publications
59,259
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6,643
Citations
Introduction
Skills and Expertise
Additional affiliations
February 2006 - present
University of Tasmania
Position
  • Research Associate

Publications

Publications (148)
Article
Full-text available
Aim Temperate marine systems globally are warming at accelerating rates, facilitating the poleward movement of warm‐water species, which are tropicalizing higher‐latitude reefs. While temperature plays a key role in structuring species distributions, less is known about how species’ early life stages are responding to warming‐induced changes in pre...
Article
Full-text available
Human impact increasingly alters global ecosystems, often reducing biodiversity and disrupting the provision of essential ecosystem services to humanity. Therefore, preserving ecosystem functioning is a critical challenge of the twenty-first century. Coral reefs are declining worldwide due to the pervasive effects of climate change and intensive fi...
Article
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Diet and body mass are inextricably linked in vertebrates: while herbivores and carnivores have converged on much larger sizes, invertivores and omnivores are, on average, much smaller, leading to a roughly U-shaped relationship between body size and trophic guild. Although this U-shaped trophic-size structure is well documented in extant terrestri...
Article
The cover image relates to the Research Article https://doi.org/10.1111/ddi.13484 “Sea temperature and habitat effects on juvenile reef fishes along a tropicalizing coastline” by McCosker et al. A tropical vagrant blue‐spine unicornfish (Naso unicornis) juvenile swims among kelp in the temperate waters of Sydney, Australia. Photo credit: John Turnb...
Article
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Spatial compositional turnover varies considerably among co‐occurring assemblages of organisms, presumably shaped by common processes related to species traits. We investigated patterns of spatial turnover in a diverse set of marine assemblages using zeta diversity, which extends traditional pairwise measures of turnover to capture the roles of bot...
Article
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Increasing speed and magnitude of global change threaten the world’s biodiversity and particularly coral reef fishes. A better understanding of large-scale patterns and processes on coral reefs is essential to prevent fish biodiversity decline but it requires new monitoring approaches. Here, we use environmental DNA metabarcoding to reconstruct wel...
Article
Effective prioritisation of research and conservation action for threatened species requires understanding the relative importance of the various pressures they face. This can be difficult for rare, cryptic, and data-deficient species, particularly when drivers of population decline are complex and indirectly impact one another. We developed a risk...
Article
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Climate change and fisheries exploitation are dramatically changing the abundances, species composition, and size spectra of fish communities. We explore whether variation in 'abundance size spectra', a widely studied ecosystem feature, is influenced by a parameter theorized to govern the shape of size-structured ecosystems-the relationship between...
Preprint
Full-text available
Climate change and fisheries exploitation are dramatically changing the species composition, abundances, and size spectra of fish communities. We explore whether variation in abundance-size spectra, a widely studied ecosystem feature, is influenced by a critical parameter thought to govern the shape of size-structured ecosystems—the relationship be...
Article
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Aim: Global declines in structurally complex habitats are reshaping both land-and seascapes in directions that affect the responses of biological communities to warming. Here, we test whether widespread loss of kelp habitats through sea urchin overgrazing systematically changes the sensitivity of fish communities to warming. Location: Global tempe...
Preprint
Tropical reefs provide livelihood and food security to millions of people. However, tropical reefs are entering new configurations requiring management strategies to incorporate process-oriented measures such as biomass production to determine their dynamics and resilience. We proposed a new framework, comprising three management strategies based o...
Article
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The contributions of species to ecosystem functions or services depend not only on their presence but also on their local abundance. Progress in predictive spatial modelling has largely focused on species occurrence rather than abundance. As such, limited guidance exists on the most reliable methods to explain and predict spatial variation in abund...
Article
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Changing biodiversity alters ecosystem functioning in nature, but the degree to which this relationship depends on the taxonomic identities rather than the number of species remains untested at broad scales. Here, we partition the effects of declining species richness and changing community composition on fish community biomass across >3000 coral a...
Article
Warming seas are driving a mass-scale restructuring of marine life, with observed responses expanding beyond species’ range shifts. New evidence highlights large regions where ecological change has been dominated by the declining abundance of species that prefer cooler waters.
Article
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Maintaining healthy, productive ecosystems in the face of pervasive and accelerating human impacts including climate change requires globally coordinated and sustained observations of marine biodiversity. Global coordination is predicated on an understanding of the scope and capacity of existing monitoring programs, and the extent to which they use...
Article
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Among the more widely accepted general hypotheses in ecology is that community relationships between abundance and body size follow a log‐linear size spectrum, from the smallest consumers to the largest predators (i.e. ‘bacteria to whales’). Nevertheless, most studies only investigate small subsets of this spectrum, and note that extreme size class...
Preprint
Global declines in structurally complex habitats are reshaping both land and seascapes in directions that affect biological communities’ responses to warming. Here, we test whether widespread loss of kelp habitats through sea urchin overgrazing systematically changes warming sensitivity of fish communities. Community thermal affinity shifts related...
Article
Full-text available
Climate change is transforming coral reef structures, with important yet largely unknown consequences for reef food webs. Crustaceans, molluscs, polychaetes, and other small motile invertebrates living as epifauna on coral habitats represent an essential trophic link between primary producers and a diverse and abundant invertivorous fish fauna. Her...
Preprint
Full-text available
The contributions of species to ecosystem functions or services depend not only on their presence in a given community, but also on their local abundance. Progress in predictive spatial modelling has largely focused on species occurrence, rather than abundance. As such, limited guidance exists on the most reliable methods to explain and predict spa...
Article
Full-text available
The global lockdown to mitigate COVID-19 pandemic health risks has altered human interactions with nature. Here, we report immediate impacts of changes in human activities on wildlife and environmental threats during the early lockdown months of 2020, based on 877 qualitative reports and 332 quantitative assessments from 89 different studies. Hundr...
Article
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Protected areas are the flagship management tools to secure biodiversity from anthropo-genic impacts. However, the extent to which adjacent areas with distinct protection levels host different species numbers and compositions remains uncertain. Here, using reef fishes, European alpine plants, and North American birds, we show that the composition o...
Article
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Human activities are altering the structure of ecological communities, often favouring generalists over specialists. For reef fishes, increasingly degraded habitats and climate-driven range shifts may independently augment generalization, particularly if fishes with least-specific habitat requirements are more likely to shift geographic ranges to t...
Presentation
Full-text available
Abstract for DNAQUA International Conference : international Conference on the Use of DNA for Water Biomonitoring - 2021
Article
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Species’ traits, rather than taxonomic identities, determine community assembly and ecosystem functioning, yet biogeographic patterns have been far less studied for traits. While both environmental conditions and evolutionary history shape trait biogeography, their relative contributions are largely unknown for most organisms. Here, we explore the...
Preprint
Amongst the more widely accepted general hypotheses in ecology is that community relationships between abundance and body size follow a log-linear size spectrum, from the smallest consumers to the largest predators (i.e., “bacteria to whales”). Nevertheless, most studies only investigate small subsets of this spectrum, due to extreme size classes t...
Article
Full-text available
The frequency distribution of individual body sizes in animal communities (i.e. the size spectrum) provides powerful insights for understanding the energy flux through food webs. However, studies of size spectra in rocky and coral reef communities typically focus only on fishes or invertebrates due to taxonomic and data constraints, and consequentl...
Article
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Extrapolating patterns from individuals to populations informs climate vulnerability models, yet biological responses to warming are uncertain at both levels. Here we contrast data on the heating tolerances of fishes from laboratory experiments with abundance patterns of wild populations. We find that heating tolerances in terms of individual physi...
Chapter
Handfishes are small, benthic marine fishes found only in south-eastern Australia. Half of the 14 known species are categorized as threatened (facing a high risk of extinction) on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species. Of the remaining species, five are considered Data Deficient, one is listed as Extinc...
Article
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Understanding species’ roles in food webs requires an accurate assessment of their trophic niche. However, it is challenging to delineate potential trophic interactions across an ecosystem, and a paucity of empirical information often leads to inconsistent definitions of trophic guilds based on expert opinion, especially when applied to hyperdivers...
Article
Primary productivity of marine ecosystems is largely driven by broad gradients in environmental and ecological properties. By contrast, secondary productivity tends to be more variable, influenced by bottom-up (resource-driven) and top-down (predatory) processes, other environmental drivers, and mediation by the physical structure of habitats. Here...
Article
Marine heatwaves are increasing in frequency and intensity, and indirectly impacting coral reef fisheries through bleaching‐induced degradation of live coral habitats. Marine heatwaves also affect fish metabolism and catchability, but such direct effects of elevated temperatures on reef fisheries are largely unknown. We investigated direct and indi...
Data
Primary productivity of marine ecosystems is largely driven by broad gradients in environmental and ecological properties. In contrast, secondary productivity tends to be more variable, influenced by bottom-up (resource driven) and top-down (predatory) processes, other environmental drivers, and mediation by the physical structure of habitats. Here...
Article
Marine species live out-of-sight, consequently geographic range, population size and long-term trends are extremely difficult to characterise for accurate conservation status assessments. Detection challenges have precluded listing of marine bony fishes as Extinct on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, until now (Mar...
Article
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Changes in invertebrate body size-distributions that follow loss of habitat-forming species can potentially affect a range of ecological processes, including predation and competition. In the marine environment, small crustaceans and other mobile invertebrates ('epifauna') represent a basal component in reef food webs, with a pivotal secondary prod...
Article
Reef Life Survey (RLS) provides a new model for ecological monitoring through training experienced recreational divers in underwater visual census methods to the level of skilled scientists. Detail produced is similar to that of programs with professional scientific teams, at low cost to allow global coverage. RLS differs from most other citizen sc...
Article
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• 1. On shallow reefs, day‐night activity patterns between fishes and invertebrates are presumed to reflect trade‐offs between feeding and predation; however, quantitative data on daily community dynamics are scarce. Moreover, night surveys may contribute important information for biodiversity inventories or baselines that normally are not consider...
Article
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Ectotherms generally shrink under experimental warming, but whether this pattern extends to wild populations is uncertain. We analysed ten million visual survey records, spanning the Australian continent and multiple decades and comprising the most common coastal reef fishes (335 species). We found that temperature indeed drives spatial and tempora...
Article
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Anthropogenic drivers are flattening reef structure from 3-dimensional habitats composed of macroalgae and live branching corals towards low-profile turfing algae. Our current understanding of the consequences of widespread reef degradation currently fails to consider the responses of small mobile invertebrates (‘epifauna’) to patterns of change am...
Article
The worldwide decline of coral reefs necessitates targeting management solutions that can sustain reefs and the livelihoods of the people who depend on them. However, little is known about the context in which different reef management tools can help to achieve multiple social and ecological goals. Because of nonlinearities in the likelihood of ach...
Preprint
Full-text available
The diversity of life on our planet has produced a remarkable variety of biological traits that characterize different species. Such traits are widely employed instead of taxonomy to increase our understanding of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. However, for species’ trophic niches, one of the most critical aspects of organismal ecology, a p...
Article
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As ocean temperatures rise, species distributions are tracking towards historically cooler regions in line with their thermal affinity1,2. However, different responses of species to warming and changed species interactions make predicting biodiversity redistribution and relative abundance a challenge3,4. Here, we use three decades of fish and plank...
Article
Existing marine bioregions covering the Pacific Ocean are conceptualised at spatial scales that are too broad for national marine spatial planning. Here, we developed the first combined oceanic and coastal marine bioregionalisation at national scales, delineating 262 deep-water and 103 reef-associated bioregions across the southwest Pacific. The de...
Article
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In coastal waters around the world, the dominant primary producers are benthic macrophytes, including seagrasses and macroalgae, that provide habitat structure and food for diverse and abundant biological communities and drive ecosystem processes. Seagrass meadows and macroalgal forests play key roles for coastal societies, contributing to fishery...
Article
We respond to criticism of our earlier paper where we report Australia‐wide declines in fisheries catches that parallel the declining trends in fish populations observed underwater, and we highlight concerns about the low levels of precaution applied when regulating fisheries catches using the avoidance of recruitment failure approach. Most fished...
Article
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Restricting human activities through Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) is assumed to create more resilient biological communities with a greater capacity to resist and recover following climate events. Here we review the evidence linking protection from local pressures (e.g., fishing and habitat destruction) with increased resilience. Despite strong th...
Technical Report
Full-text available
A suite of field manuals was released by the NESP Marine Hub in early 2018 to facilitate a national monitoring framework, with a focus on seven marine sampling platforms: multibeam sonar, autonomous underwater vehicles, baited remote underwater video (pelagic and demersal), towed imagery, sleds and trawls, and grabs and box corers. These platforms...
Article
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Improving predictions of ecological responses to climate change requires understanding how local abundance relates to temperature gradients, yet many factors influence local abundance in wild populations. We evaluated the shape of thermal‐abundance distributions using 98 422 abundance estimates of 702 reef fish species worldwide. We found that curv...
Article
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Baselines and benchmarks (B&Bs) are needed to evaluate the ecological status and fisheries potential of coral reefs. B&Bs may depend on habitat features and energetic limitations that constrain biomass within the natural variability of the environment and fish behaviors. To evaluate if broad B&Bs exist, we compiled data on the biomass of fishes in...
Article
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Aim To investigate biotic and abiotic correlates of reef‐fish species richness across multiple spatial scales. Location Tropical reefs around the globe, including 485 sites in 109 sub‐provinces spread across 14 biogeographic provinces. Time period Present. Major taxa studied 2,523 species of reef fish. Methods We compiled a database encompassin...
Article
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Expanding urbanization in estuaries and the increase in pollutants from anthropogenic point sources can affect nearby benthic assemblages. Using a paired impact-control design, we assessed the effects of pollution from anthropogenic point sources (marinas, storm-water drains, sewage outfalls and fish farms) on algal and sessile invertebrate recruit...
Article
Aim Marine protected areas (MPAs) are increasingly implemented to conserve or restore coral reef biodiversity, yet evidence of their benefits for enhancing coral cover is limited and variable. Location 30 MPAs worldwide and nearby sites (within 10 km). Taxa Cover of key functional groups for coral (total, branching, massive and tabular), and alga...
Article
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Global warming is markedly changing diverse coral reef ecosystems through an increasing frequency and magnitude of mass bleaching events1-3. How local impacts scale up across affected regions depends on numerous factors, including patchiness in coral mortality, metabolic effects of extreme temperatures on populations of reef-dwelling species4 and i...
Article
Populations of macro-algae and sessile invertebrates have precipitously declined in urbanised coastal waters in Australia since European occupation. Responses of healthy subtidal sessile assemblages to cumulative impacts and types of urban impacts were measured in one of the most polluted estuaries in Australia - the Derwent Estuary - by transplant...
Article
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Recent studies show that all marine bony fish produce mud-sized (< 63 μm) carbonate at rates relevant to carbonate sediment budgets, thus adding to the debate about the often enigmatic origins of finegrained marine carbonates. However, existing production data are geographically and taxonomically limited, and because different fish families are now...
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...