Branching coral as a macroalgal refuge in a marginal coral reef system

Bennett, S., Vergés, A., and Bellwood, D.R. (2010) Branching coral as a macroalgal refuge in a marginal coral reef system. Coral Reefs, 29 (2). pp. 471-480.

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Marginal coral reef systems may provide valuable insights into the nature of ecosystem processes in systems on the trajectory towards a phase shift to an alternate ecosystem state. This study investigates the process of herbivory in a marginal coral reef system in the Keppel Islands at the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef. Branching Acropora coral and the brown macroalga Lobophora variegata occupied up to 95% of the reef crest substratum at the three surveyed reefs. Feeding rates of herbivorous fishes and removal rates of Lobophora were directly quantified within areas of branching Acropora and on planar surfaces. Feeding rates by herbivorous fishes were habitat dependent with the highest bite rates being found in planar habitats for both Lobophora and the epilithic algal matrix (EAM) by 1–2 orders of magnitude, respectively. Feeding rates on Lobophora were, however, much lower than rates on the EAM. The low rates of Lobophora removal and significantly lower rates of herbivory in branching habitats were consistent with the high biomass of this brown alga throughout the Keppel Islands and with its distribution on reef crests, where Lobophora biomass was 20 times greater in branching than in planar habitats. This lack of feeding by herbivorous fishes within

Item ID: 15104
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1432-0975
Keywords: herbivory; Lobophora variegata; ecosystem function; phase shift; resilience; coral reef
Date Deposited: 09 Dec 2010 22:59
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960507 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Marine Environments @ 100%
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