Shaun K Wilson

Shaun K Wilson
Department of Parks and Wildlife | DPaW

PhD

About

235
Publications
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20,361
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Publications

Publications (235)
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
Mobile consumers are key vectors of cross-ecosystem nutrients, yet have experienced population declines which threaten their ability to fill this role. Despite their importance and vulnerability, there is little information on how consumer biodiversity, in addition to biomass, influences the magnitude of nutrient subsidies. Here, we show that both...
Article
Macroalgae‐dominated reefs are a prominent habitat in tropical seascapes that support a diversity of fishes, including fishery target species. To what extent, then, do macroalgal habitats contribute to small‐scale tropical reef fisheries? To address this question we: (1) Quantified the macroalgae‐associated fish component in catches from 133 small‐...
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
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Fish swimming capacity is a key life history trait critical to many aspects of their ecology. U-crit (critical) swimming speeds provide a robust, repeatable relative measure of swimming speed that can serve as a useful surrogate for other measures of swimming performance. Here we collate and make available one the most comprehensive datasets on U-c...
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
Abstract. Crown-of-thorns sea stars (Acanthaster sp.) are among the most studied coral reef organisms, owing to their propensity to undergo major population irruptions, which contribute to significant coral loss and reef degradation throughout the Indo-Pacific. However, there are still important knowledge gaps pertaining to the biology, ecology, an...
Article
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Many temperate reefs are experiencing a shift towards a greater abundance of tropical species in response to marine heatwaves and long-term ocean warming worldwide. Baseline data for coral communities growing in high-latitude reefs is required to better understand ecosystem changes over time. In this study, we explore spatial and temporal trends in...
Article
Seagrass meadows and the often poorly described ichthyofauna that reside within this habitat are threatened globally. Small-bodied fish in seagrass habitats are often of conservation concern due to their vulnerable life-history characteristics, depauperate distribution and abundance data and importance to artisanal fisheries. We employ a novel appr...
Article
The Kimberley marine environment in Western Australia is widely recognised for its outstanding natural features, vast and remote sea and landscapes, and Indigenous cultural significance. To ensure that adequate baseline information is available to understand, monitor and manage this remote and relatively understudied region, scientific exploration...
Article
Bioindicators are useful for determining nutrient regimes in marine environments, but their ability to evaluate corals reefs in different ecological states is poorly understood. The precision, availability and congruency of eight potential bioindicators (brown macroalgae, green macroalgae, turf algae, cyanobacteria, soft corals, zoanthids, sponges,...
Article
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Macroalgal-dominated reefs are a prominent component of tropical seascapes providing food and shelter for many species whilst subsidising secondary productivity in coastal ecosystems. Monitoring and managing macroalgae require an understanding of key processes that alter these assemblages, especially at the local scale. Here we consider how sedimen...
Chapter
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The Western Indian Ocean (WIO) region comprises almost 6% (about 15,180 km2) of the total global area of coral reefs, and the region is a globally important hotspot for coral reef biodiversity. The WIO includes sovereign states along the eastern and southern African mainland (Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, South Africa), island states (Mauri...
Article
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Marine fisheries in coastal ecosystems in many areas of the world have historically removed large-bodied individuals, potentially impairing ecosystem functioning and the long-term sustainability of fish populations. Reporting on size-based indicators that link to food-web structure can contribute to ecosystem-based management, but the application o...
Article
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Scleractinian corals are engineers on coral reefs that provide both structural complexity as habitat and sustenance for other reef-associated organisms via the release of organic and inorganic matter. However, coral reefs are facing multiple pressures from climate change and other stressors, which can result in mass coral bleaching and mortality ev...
Article
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Marine reserves are a key tool for the conservation of marine biodiversity, yet only ~2.5% of the world's oceans are protected. The integration of marine reserves into connected networks representing all habitats has been encouraged by international agreements, yet the benefits of this design has not been tested empirically. Australia has one of th...
Article
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Seagrass fishes perform key ecological roles and are a critical component of many of the world’s fisheries. A sound understanding of seagrass fish communities, based on robust methods, is therefore integral for their successful environmental management and conservation. Here we quantitatively compare taxa and size class of seagrass fish assemblages...
Article
Many marine fish populations have declined due to the individual or cumulative impacts of increasing water temperatures, ocean acidification, overfishing and other human-induced impacts such as land run-off, dredging and habitat alteration. Some solutions may be offered by ecosystem-based fisheries and conservation management. However, understandin...
Article
Understanding ecological processes that shape contemporary and future communities facilitates knowledge-based environmental management. In marine ecosystems, one of the most important processes is the supply of new recruits into a population. Here, we investigated spatiotemporal variability in coral recruitment at 15 reefs throughout the Dampier Ar...
Article
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Anthropogenic impacts at isolated and inaccessible reefs are often minimal, offering rare opportunities to observe fish assemblages in a relatively undisturbed state. The remote Rowley Shoals are regarded as one of the healthiest reef systems in the Indian Ocean with demonstrated resilience to natural disturbance, no permanent human population near...
Preprint
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Macroalgal forests are a prominent component of tropical seascapes providing food and shelter for many species whilst subsidising secondary productivity in coastal ecosystems. Monitoring and managing macroalgae requires an understanding of key processes that alter these assemblages, especially at the local scale. Here we consider how sediment depth...
Chapter
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The Ningaloo coast of north-western Australia (eastern Indian Ocean) hosts one of the world’s longest and most extensive fringing coral reef systems, along with globally significant abundances of large marine fauna such as whale sharks. These characteristics – which have contributed to its inscription on the World Heritage list – exist because of t...
Article
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Structural complexity spanning fine to broad spatial scales can influence the distribution and activity of key organisms within marine ecosystems. However, the relative importance of hard (e.g., corals) and/or soft (e.g., macroalgae) structural complexity for marine organisms is often unclear. This study shows how both broad-scale (seascape configu...
Article
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Increasing degradation of coral reef ecosystems and specifically, loss of corals is causing significant and widespread declines in the abundance of coral reef fishes, but the proximate cause(s) of these declines are largely unknown. Here, we examine specific responses to host coral mortality for three species of coral-dwelling damselfishes (Dascyll...
Article
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Increasing sea surface temperature and extreme heat events pose the greatest threat to coral reefs globally, with trends exceeding previous norms. The resultant mass bleaching events, such as those evidenced on the Great Barrier Reef in 2016, 2017, and 2020 have substantial ecological costs in addition to economic and social costs. Advancing remote...
Article
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Complex histories of chronic and acute sea surface temperature (SST) stresses are expected to trigger taxon- and location-specific responses that will ultimately lead to novel coral communities. The 2016 El Niño-Southern Oscillation provided an opportunity to examine largescale and recent environmental histories on emerging patterns in 226 coral co...
Article
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Aim Predictions for the future of coral reefs are largely based on thermal exposure and poorly account for potential geographic variation in biological sensitivity to thermal stress. Without accounting for complex sensitivity responses, simple climate exposure models and associated predictions may lead to poor estimates of future coral survival and...
Article
The worlds’ coral reefs are declining due to the combined effects of natural disturbances and anthropogenic pressures including thermal coral bleaching associated with global climate change. Nearshore corals are receiving increased anthropogenic stress from coastal development and nutrient run-off. Considering forecast increases in global temperatu...
Article
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Positive relationships between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning (BEF) highlight the importance of conserving biodiversity to maintain key ecosystem functions and associated services. Although natural systems are rapidly losing biodiversity due to numerous human-caused stressors, our understanding of how multiple stressors influence BEF relati...
Article
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Canopy-forming macroalgae can construct extensive meadow habitats in tropical seascapes occupied by fishes that span a diversity of taxa, life-history stages and ecological roles. Our synthesis assessed whether these tropical macroalgal habitats have unique fish assemblages, provide fish nurseries and support local fisheries. We also applied a meta...
Article
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There are a wide range of Scleractinian corals that are collected for the global reef aquarium market, often from non-reefal environments. The sustainability of coral harvesting is potentially threatened by increasing anthropogenic disturbances and climate change, though it is unknown to what extent many commonly harvested corals are susceptible to...
Article
On coral reefs, changes in the cover and relative abundance of hard coral taxa often follow disturbance. Although the ecological responses of common coral taxa have been well documented, little is known about the ecological responses of uncommon coral taxa or of coral morphological groups across multiple adjacent reef zones. We used Multivariate Au...
Article
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Coral reef ecosystems are among the first to fundamentally change in structure due to climate change, which leads to questioning of whether decades of knowledge regarding reef management is still applicable. Here we assess ecological responses to no-take marine reserves over two decades, spanning a major climate-driven coral bleaching event. Pre-bl...
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...
Article
The increased occurrence of extreme climate events, such as marine heatwaves (MHWs), has resulted in substantial ecological impacts worldwide. To date metrics of thermal stress within marine systems have focussed on coral communities, and less is known about measuring stress relevant to other primary producers, such as seagrasses. An extreme MHW oc...
Article
Full-text available
Canopy-forming macroalgae can construct extensive meadow habitats in tropical seascapes occupied by fishes that span a diversity of taxa, life history stages and ecological roles. Our synthesis assessed whether these tropical macroalgal habitats have unique fish assemblages, provide fish nurseries, and support local fisheries. We also applied a met...
Article
Full-text available
As climate changes increase heat stress on tropical ecosystems, the long-term persistence of coral reefs requires rapid coral recovery following coral bleaching events. Using the extent of coral cover return to a pre-bleaching baseline as a benchmark, recovery of fast-growing and stress-tolerant coral growth forms suggests that reefs can bounce bac...
Article
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Under extreme heat stress, corals expel their symbiotic algae and colour (that is, ‘bleaching’), which often leads to widespread mortality. Predicting the large-scale environmental conditions that reinforce or mitigate coral bleaching remains unresolved and limits strategic conservation actions1,2. Here we assessed coral bleaching at 226 sites and...
Article
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Without drastic efforts to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate globalized stressors, tropical coral reefs are in jeopardy. Strategic conservation and management requires identification of the environmental and socioeconomic factors driving the persistence of scleractinian coral assemblages—the foundation species of coral reef ecosystems. Here, we...
Article
1.Herbivory is a key process on coral reefs which, through grazing of algae, can help sustain coral‐dominated states on frequently‐disturbed reefs and reverse macroalgal regime shifts on degraded ones. 2.Our understanding of herbivory on reefs is largely founded on feeding observations at small spatial scales, yet the biomass and structure of herbi...
Article
Full-text available
Thermally induced mass coral bleaching is globally responsible for major losses of coral cover. Coral recovery from mass coral disturbances like the 2016 bleaching event hinges on successful recruitment of new coral colonies to the existing population. Juvenile corals as a life history stage represent survival and growth of new recruits. As such, h...
Article
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Western Australia’s coral reefs have largely escaped the chronic pressures affecting other reefs around the world, but are regularly affected by seasonal storms and cyclones, and increasingly by heat stress and coral bleaching. Reef systems north of 18°S have been impacted by heat stress and coral bleaching during strong El Niño phases and those fu...
Article
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Repeated bouts of coral bleaching threaten the long-term persistence of coral reefs and associated communities. Here, we document the short- and long-term impacts of heatwave events on coral and fish assemblages, based on regular surveys of 18 reefs of the granitic islands of Seychelles over 23 yr. Extreme heat events in 1998 and 2016 led to bleach...
Article
Ecological communities are reorganizing in response to warming temperatures. For continuous ocean habitats this reorganization is characterized by large-scale species redistribution, but for tropical discontinuous habitats such as coral reefs, spatial isolation coupled with strong habitat dependence of fish species imply that turnover and local ext...
Article
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1.Tropical reefs have been subjected to a range of anthropogenic pressures such as global climate change, overfishing and eutrophication that have raised questions about the prominence of macroalgae on tropical reefs, whether they pose a threat to biodiversity, and how they may influence the function of tropical marine ecosystems. 2.We synthesise c...
Article
Cross‐ecosystem nutrient subsidies play a key role in the structure and dynamics of recipient communities, but human activities are disrupting these links. Because nutrient subsidies may also enhance community stability, the effects of losing these inputs may be exacerbated in the face of increasing climate‐related disturbances. Nutrients from seab...
Article
Trait diversity is believed to influence ecosystem dynamics through links between organismal traits and ecosystem processes. Theory predicts that key traits and high trait redundancy – large species richness and abundance supporting the same traits – can buffer communities against environmental disturbances. While experiments and data from simple e...
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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Tropical coastal communities are highly reliant on coral reefs, which provide nutrition and employment for millions of people. Climate-driven coral bleaching events are fundamentally changing coral reef ecosystems and are predicted to reduce productivity of coral reef fish and fisheries, with significant implications for food security and livelihoo...
Article
Full-text available
Tropical coastal communities are highly reliant on coral reefs, which provide nutrition and employment for millions of people. Climate-driven coral bleaching events are fundamentally changing coral reef ecosystems and are predicted to reduce productivity of coral reef fish and fisheries, with significant implications for food security and livelihoo...
Technical Report
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This report presents a synthesis of ecological monitoring within the Shark Bay marine reserves up to the end of 2017. The work presented here is managed by the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions’ (DBCA) Marine Science Program (MSP) as part of Science Project Plan 2012/008 and is implemented in collaboration with DBCA Shark Bay...
Article
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Understanding the spatial and temporal distribution of coral assemblages and the processes structuring those patterns is fundamental to managing reef assemblages. Cross-shelf marine systems exhibit pronounced and persistent gradients in environmental conditions; however, these gradients are not always reliable predictors of coral distribution or th...
Article
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Heat waves have profoundly impacted biota globally over the past decade, especially where their ecological impacts are rapid, diverse, and broad-scale. Although usually considered in isolation for either terrestrial or marine ecosystems, heat waves can straddle ecosystems of both types at subcontinental scales, potentially impacting larger areas an...
Article
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Context In heterogeneous landscapes, local patterns of community structure are a product of the habitat size and condition within a patch interacting with adjacent habitat patches of varying composition and quantity. While evidence for local versus landscape factors have been found in terrestrial biomes, support for such multi-scale effects shaping...
Article
The tropics contain the overwhelming majority of Earth's biodiversity: their terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems hold more than three-quarters of all species, including almost all shallow-water corals and over 90% of terrestrial birds. However, tropical ecosystems are also subject to pervasive and interacting stressors, such as deforestat...
Chapter
Climate-induced coral bleaching poses a significant threat to coral reef ecosystems, causing extensive coral loss and degradation of reef habitats. Moreover, many reef fishes exhibit declines in abundance following severe episodes of coral bleaching, attributable to loss of live coral and/or declines in the structural complexity of reef habitats. T...