Effects of territorial damselfish on an algal-dominated coastal coral reef

Ceccarelli, Daniela M., Jones, Geoffrey P., and McCook, Laurence J. (2005) Effects of territorial damselfish on an algal-dominated coastal coral reef. Coral Reefs, 24 (4). pp. 606-620.

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Abstract

Territorial damselfish are important herbivores on coral reefs because they can occupy a large proportion of the substratum and modify the benthic community to promote the cover of food algae. However, on coastal coral reefs damselfish occupy habitats that are often dominated by unpalatable macroalgae. The aim of this study was to examine whether damselfish can maintain distinctive algal assemblages on a coastal reef that is seasonally dominated by Sargassum (Magnetic Island, Great Barrier Reef). Here, three abundant species (Pomacentrus tripunctatus, P. wardi and Stegastes apicalis) occupied up to 60% of the reef substrata. All three species promoted the abundance of food algae in their territories. The magnitudes of the effects varied among reef zones, but patterns were relatively stable over time. Damselfish appear to readily co-exist with large unpalatable macro algae as they can use it as a substratum for promoting the growth of palatable epiphytes. Damselfish territories represent patches of increased epiphyte load on macroalgae, decreased sediment cover, and enhanced cover of palatable algal turf.

Item ID: 6150
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: herbivory; territorial damselfish; Benthic assemblages; fleshy macroalgae
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ISSN: 1432-0975
Date Deposited: 06 Apr 2010 03:28
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 70%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050102 Ecosystem Function @ 30%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
Citation Count from Web of Science Web of Science 21
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