Abrolhos network

The Abrolhos Bank is an extension of the eastern Brazilian continental shelf (approximately) located in the south of Bahia State, Brazil. The Abrolhos Bank comprises the largest and richest reefs of the South Atlantic, with at least 20 species of coral, including 6 that are endemic to Brazil. The Abrolhos region sustains significant fisheries, with fishing significantly affecting the reef community. A low abundance of large herbivorous reef fish (Acanthuridae and Scaridae) was recorded in macroalgal-dominated unprotected reefs. The establishment of no-take areas led to significant increases in the biomass of commercially important herbivorous fishes and concomitant declines in macroalgal cover. In contrast with other regions of the world, little is known regarding the microbial diversity of the Abrolhos Bank. No data are available on the possible effects of different management regimes on the microbial diversity. Possible inter-connections among microbial, benthic and fish assemblages, as well as nutrient concentrations, were evaluated in the present study for coral reefs of the Abrolhos Bank, eastern Brazil.
  The Abrolhos Bank is the most important coral reef area of the South Atlantic Ocean, but less than 5% of the reefs are located within Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). All Brazilian endemic scleractinians are found in the Abrolhos Bank. The two offshore reefs within the no-take area of the National Marine Park of Abrolhos (NMPA) included in this study (Parcel dos Abrolhos and California) are well protected from fishing. The two inner reefs (Pedra de Leste and Sebastia˜o Gomes) are unprotected and subjected to high fishing pressure, while the third reef (Timbebas Reef) is located within a poorly enforced portion of the NMPA. Spatial management through implementations of the NMPA can be considered a large-scale ecological experiment that can provide important insights into ecosystem functioning and management effectiveness.