Anthropopause positively influenced Red Sea Clownfish (Amphiprion bicinctus) populations but not the host sea anemone (Actiniaria spp.) in Eilat, Israel

Reuven Yosef, Tal Nachshonov, Piotr Zduniak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The anthropopause, when humans were restricted to their homes because of the COVID-19 pandemic, allowed wildlife to reoccupy areas that were previously used by humans. The coral reef at Eilat has been deteriorating for the past 50-years, and includes the sea anemones, that have symbiotic associations with clownfish. The lack of appropriate niches in the form of sea anemones has also resulted in a drastic decline in the endemic Red Sea Clownfish (RSCF). We surveyed 7500 m of the reef to quantify the number of sea anemones and RSCF on five tourist frequented beaches. The pre-pandemic survey was conducted in 2019 and the post-pandemic in 2021. Overall, the average number of sea anemone per sample plot was 0.23/100 m (range 0–6); and there was no significant difference between the years. However, the mean number of RSCF per 100 m was 0.15 (range 0–6); and there were significant differences between the years with on average double the individuals in 2021. We found a significant positive correlation between the number of anemones and RSCF recorded on transects. In both years, 50 RSCF were in sea anemones; 39 (78 %) adults and 11 (22 %) juveniles. All adults and two juveniles populated the bulb/digitiform-tentacle sea anemones Entacmaea quadricolor, while 9 juveniles were in the leathery anemone Heteractis crispa. Our study demonstrates that the COVID-19 closures for the past two years were conducive to the RSCF and resulted in an increase in their numbers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105280
JournalMarine Policy
Volume145
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2022

Keywords

  • Anemone
  • COVID-19
  • Fish
  • Pandemic
  • Population
  • Symbiosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Environmental Science (all)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Law

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