Lethal effects of habitat degradation on fishes through changing competitive advantage

McCormick, Mark I. (2012) Lethal effects of habitat degradation on fishes through changing competitive advantage. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B, Biological Sciences, 279 (1744). pp. 3899-3904.

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View at Publisher Website: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2012.0854


Coral bleaching has caused catastrophic changes to coral reef ecosystems around the world with profound ecological, social and economic repercussions. While its occurrence is predicted to increase in the future, we have little understanding of mechanisms that underlie changes in the fish community associated with coral degradation. The present study uses a field-based experiment to examine how the intensity of interference competition between juveniles of two species of damselfish changes as healthy corals degrade through thermal bleaching. The mortality of a damselfish that is a live coral specialist (Pomacentrus moluccensis) increased on bleached and dead coral in the presence of the habitat generalist (Pomacentrus amboinensis). Increased mortality of the specialist was indirectly owing to enhanced aggression by the generalist forcing the specialist higher up and further away from shelter on bleached and dead coral. Evidence from this study stresses the importance of changing interspecific interactions to community dynamics as habitats change.

Item ID: 22451
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1471-2954
Keywords: habitat degradation; coral bleaching; climate change; fish community; interference competition; interspecific competition
Date Deposited: 21 Nov 2012 04:08
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060202 Community Ecology (excl Invasive Species Ecology) @ 50%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960307 Effects of Climate Change and Variability on Australia (excl. Social Impacts) @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 50%
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