Via The Conversation
"How can scientists effectively measure the status and therefore sustainability of coral reef fish populations? One would think that an isolated reef ecosystem shielded from the influence of people would provide an ideal benchmark against which other coral reefs – and their productivity as sources of fish – can be compared. But in a recent study, we found that it is not that simple.
Using data collected by scientific divers at nearly 2,000 sites at islands and atolls across the western-central Pacific, we developed a method for separating human from other environmental factors to assess reef fish status. We found that not all coral reef areas have the same ability to sustain stocks of fish, and what constitutes “natural” varies substantially among locations."