Assessing the Conservation Potential of Fish and Corals in Aquariums Globally

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For the week of 10 December 2018

Greetings OpenChannels Community Members,

Journal for Nature Conservation has published Assessing the Conservation Potential of Fish and Corals in Aquariums Globally, "Aquatic ecosystems are indispensable for life on earth and yet despite their essential function and services roles, marine and freshwater biomes are facing unprecedented threats from both traditional and emerging anthropogenic stressors. The resultant species and ecosystem-level threat severity requires an urgent response from the conservation community. With their care facilities, veterinary and conservation breeding expertise, reintroduction and restoration and public communication reach, stand-alone aquariums and zoos holding aquatic taxa have great collective potential to help address the current biodiversity crisis, which is now greatest in freshwater than land habitats. However, uncertainty regarding the number of species kept in such facilities hinders assessment of their conservation value. Here we analyzed standardized and shared data of zoological institution members of Species360, for fish and Anthozoa species (i.e. Actinopterygii, Elasmobranchii, Holocephali, Myxini, Sarcopterygii and Anthozoa). To assess the conservation potential of populations held in these institutions, we cross-referenced the Species360 records with the following conservation schemes: the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES), the IUCN Red List, Climate Change Vulnerability, Evolutionary Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) and The Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE). We found that aquariums hold four of the six fish species listed by the IUCN Red List as ‘Extinct in the Wild’, 31% of Anthozoa species listed by Foden et al. (2013) as Vulnerable to Climate Change, 19 out of the 111 Anthozoa EDGE species, and none of the species prioritized by the AZE. However, it’s very likely that significant additional species of high conservation value are held in aquariums that do not manage their records in standardized, sharable platforms such as Species360. Our study highlights both the great value of aquarium and zoo collections for addressing the aquatic biodiversity crisis, as well as the importance that they maintain comprehensive, standardised, globally-shared taxonomic data."

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– Allie Brown, Raye Evrard, and the rest of the OpenChannels Team

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Aquaculture, Seafood, and Food Security

OA: Bacher C. et al. Spatial, Ecological and Social Dimensions of Assessments for Bivalve Farming Management. Goods and Services of Marine Bivalves. Springer, Cham. (2018)

Conservation Targets & Planning

OA: da Silva, R. et al. Assessing the Conservation Potential of Fish and Corals in Aquariums Globally. Journal for Nature Conservation (In Press). doi:10.1016/j.jnc.2018.12.001

OA: Fraschetti, S. et al. Light and Shade in Marine Conservation Across European and Contiguous Seas. Frontiers in Marine Science 5, (2018).


OA: Nietzer, S., Moeller, M., Kitamura, M. & Schupp, P. J. Coral Larvae Every Day: Leptastrea purpurea, a Brooding Species That Could Accelerate Coral Research. Frontiers in Marine Science 5,(2018).

Ecosystem Services and Uses

OA: Teixeira, H. et al. Linking biodiversity to ecosystem services supply: Patterns across aquatic ecosystems. Science of The Total Environment (In Press). doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.11.440

Ecosystem-based Management (EBM)

Preprint: Potouroglou, M. & Davis, J. Communicating Ecosystem-Based Management. (GRID-Arendal, 2018). doi:10.31230/

Fisheries and Fisheries Management

OA: Brink, T. S. ten & Dalton, T. Perceptions of Commercial and Recreational Fishers on the Potential Ecological Impacts of the Block Island Wind Farm (US). Frontiers in Marine Science 5,(2018).

Human Impacts on the Environment

OA: Lundquist, C. J. et al. Assessing Benthic Responses to Fishing Disturbance Over Broad Spatial Scales That Incorporate High Environmental Variation. Frontiers in Marine Science 5, (2018).


OA: Hays, G. C. & Hawkes, L. A. Satellite Tracking Sea Turtles: Opportunities and Challenges to Address Key Questions. Frontiers in Marine Science 5, (2018).

Pollution and Marine Debris

OA: Yang, Y. et al. Plastics in the marine environment are reservoirs for antibiotic and metal resistance genes. Environment International 123, 79 - 86 (2019).

Tools and Data

OA: Hornborg, S., Hobday, A. J., Ziegler, F., Smith, A. D. M. & Green, B. S. Shaping sustainability of seafood from capture fisheries integrating the perspectives of supply chain stakeholders through combining systems analysis tools. ICES Journal of Marine Science (2018). doi:10.1093/icesjms/fsy081

MarXiv Summaries

Fully-protected MPAs can enhance effectiveness of biodiversity protection for their neighboring partially-protected areas

In this MarXiv Summary audio-edition, we interview Mirta Zupan and Emanuel Gonçalves about their recent research, which shows that neighboring fully-protected areas can enhance the effectiveness of partially-protected areas. The research also shows that weakly-regulated marine protected areas (MPAs) are not effective at protecting biodiversity.

Capture of pregnant sharks, skates, and rays can induce abortion

In this MarXiv Summary audio-edition, we interview Kye Adams about his recent research which shows that fishing capture of pregnant elasmobranchs (sharks, skates, and rays) can cause these animals to abort their young. The findings suggest that gear restrictions and seasonal closures around the breeding season might be warranted in areas where endangered elasmobranchs are prevalent.