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Nouméa, New Caledonia

Andrefouet S.,Institute Of Recherche Pour Le Developpement | Van Wynsberge S.,Institute Of Recherche Pour Le Developpement | Gaertner-Mazouni N.,University of French Polynesia | Menkes C.,Institute Of Recherche Pour Le Developpement | And 2 more authors.
Biological Conservation | Year: 2013

In 2004, the first no-take area (NTA) dedicated to the conservation of giant clams Tridacna maxima was implemented in Tatakoto Atoll, French Polynesia. This NTA protected a unique area worldwide, with extraordinarily high giant clam densities (up to 337 individuals per m2 on 20-m transect). In 2012, a stock assessment survey revealed a dramatic decrease of the clam population. The reduced densities peaked at 38indm-2 and the stock in the NTA decreased from 20.1±6.0million to 1.9±0.55million clams (mean±95% confidence interval). Losses of similar proportions were observed throughout the atoll. Remarkably, the 83% overall loss of this natural resource used daily for consumption and for exports of clam meat to Tahiti Island went unnoticed by the local population. Field clues, including the size of live juveniles attached to the inside of dead shells, pointed to a massive mortality occurring about 3years before the 2012 survey. Examinations of sea surface temperature satellite data identified a high range of temperature variations before March 2009. In agreement with past and recent events in other atolls, this anomaly is the most likely explanation of the massive loss of giant clams in Tatakoto Atoll, although the exact hydrological and biological secondary mechanisms that occurred in the lagoon remain unclear. The consequences of the massive die-off inside and outside the NTA require new long-term management strategies, by reinforcing the top-down national giant clam management arrangements and by setting flexible management objectives across a network of islands. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. Source

Van Wynsberge S.,Institute Of Recherche Pour Le Developpement | Andrefouet S.,Institute Of Recherche Pour Le Developpement | Gilbert A.,GINGER SOPRONER | Stein A.,Direction des Ressources Marines | Remoissenet G.,Direction des Ressources Marines
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

The giant clam Tridacna maxima has been largely overexploited in many tropical regions over the past decades, and was therefore listed in appendix II of the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in 1985. In French Polynesia, several atolls and islands harbor the world's highest stocks of giant clams in very shallow and accessible areas, which are therefore highly vulnerable to fishing pressure. The local fishery authority (i.e., Direction des Resources Marines or "DRM") implemented several management schemes in 2002 to control and regulate fishing pressure. However, for further decisions DRM was missing a sensitivity analysis on the effectiveness of the possible management actions. Here, we report on the use of a deterministic Viable Population Analysis (VPA) and spatially-explicit age-based population model that simulated the 30-year trajectory of a Tridacna maxima stock under different management approaches. Specifically, given various scenarios of intra-island larval dispersal, we tested which of No-take-Areas (NTAs), rotational closures, size limits, quotas, and restocking schemes would lead to the highest future stocks in Tubuai and Raivavae, two exploited islands of the Austral archipelago. For both islands, stock abundances were estimated in 2004/2010 and 2005/2010 respectively, and natural mortalities were assessed previously only in Tubuai. When compared to field data, the model successfully predicted the 2010 stocks for Tubuai, but proved to be less reliable for Raivavae, where natural mortality rates may well be different from those on Tubuai. For Tubuai, the spatial model suggested that reducing fishing effort (through fixed quotas) and banning fishing below the 12 cm size limit (as currently implemented) were the most effective management actions to sustain T. maxima populations into the future. Implementing NTAs was of poor effectiveness. NTAs increased giant clam stock inside the protected area, but also increased overfishing in the neighboring areas, and were ineffective overall. © 2013 Van Wynsberge et al. Source

Van Wynsberge S.,Ird Institute Of Recherche Pour Le Developpement | Van Wynsberge S.,University of French Polynesia | Gilbert A.,GINGER SOPRONER | Guillemot N.,Nicolas Guillemot Consultant | And 2 more authors.
Marine Pollution Bulletin | Year: 2013

Monitoring ecological variables is mandatory to detect abnormal changes in ecosystems. When the studied variables exceed predefined alert thresholds, management actions may be required. In the past, alert thresholds have been typically defined by expert judgments and descriptive statistics. Recently, approaches based on statistical power were also used. In New Caledonia, seagrass monitoring is a priority given their vulnerability to natural and anthropic disturbances. To define a suitable monitoring strategy and alert thresholds, we compared a Percentile Based Approach (PBA) and a sensitivity analysis of power (SAP). Both methods defined statistically relevant alert thresholds, but the SAP approach was more robust to spatial and temporal variability of seagrass cover. Moreover, this method characterized the sensitivity of threshold values to sampling efforts, a useful knowledge for managers. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. Source

Gilbert A.,GINGER SOPRONER | Heintz T.,GINGER SOPRONER | Hoeksema B.W.,Naturalis Biodiversity Center | Benzoni F.,University of Milan Bicocca | And 4 more authors.
Marine Pollution Bulletin | Year: 2015

Since its description in 1984, little attention has been paid to the New Caledonian endemic mushroom coral Cantharellus noumeae (Fungiidae), an IUCN Red-listed, endangered coral species. Our study presents the first ever quantitative assessment conducted on C. noumeae populations for two contrasting sites in the same turbid bay. Sites differed by their substrates of artificial or natural origins. Metal concentrations of superficial sediment were measured. C. noumeae was found in high densities in metal-rich and turbid environments at both locations, reaching up to 288 individuals per 50m2. It was 3.5 times more abundant on natural rock than on artificial substrates. Recruitment was also higher proportionally on rock (47% vs 7-14%). The composition of the associated coral communities included 30-37 species occurring in low densities. Our findings clarify the environmental niche of this species and its colonization potential, in order to eventually better characterize its conservation status. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. Source

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