“A Tale of Fish Pee: What We Know and Where We Are Going,” was the topic presented by Jake Allegeier. Allegeier is from the School of Aquatic and Fishery Science at the University of Washington.
He began by addressing the nutrients stored in the tissue of fish specifically nitrogen and phosphorus. During the study carried out in The Bahamas, Allegeier said they studied 76 species of fish accounting for 1,400 fish in total.
The selected fish were chosen based on their species and size to determine how much nutrients were being produced in their environment, and a structure was built out of cinder blocks mimicking an artificial reefs for the fish to aggregate around.
Although Allegeier noted that species richness was a strong predictor of nutrient supply and storage, it was discovered that targeting fishing on select species reduces top predators, which tend to store and supply the greatest amount of nutrients.
While overfishing is one of the main causes of global coral reef declines, the degree to which humans impact healthy fish communities with large source of nutrients is not known. Research has also shown that The Bahamas is listed among countries with the most-nutrient limited marine ecosystems in the world.
All in all, however, research suggests that fish nutrients are providing ideal environment for coral reef to thrive in therefore conservation focus needs to be on maintaining trophic structure and community size structure to maintain high levels of ecosystem function instead of focusing on the number of a particular fish species.