Avoiding the flow: refuges expand the swimming potential of coral reef fishes

Johansen, J.L., Fulton, C.J., and Bellwood, D.R. (2007) Avoiding the flow: refuges expand the swimming potential of coral reef fishes. Coral Reefs, 26 (3). pp. 577-583.

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Abstract

While many coral reef fishes utilise substratum refuges, the direct influence of water flow and swimming ability on such refuging patterns is yet to be established. This study examined the swimming ability and refuging behaviour of a labrid (Halichoeres margaritaceus) and a pomacentrid (Pomacentrus chrysurus) that inhabit high flow, wave-swept coral reef flats. Field observations of refuging patterns were combined with experimental evaluations in a flow tank using a replica of a substratum hole frequently used by these species. Under a range of flow speeds commonly found on the reef flat (0–60 cm s−1), flow within the substratum refuge was reduced to speeds of 0–12 cm s−1, representing a 75–100% flow reduction. Swimming ability of each species was then tested at 60 cm s−1 with and without access to this flow refuge. Both species were able to maintain activity within the 60 cm s−1 flow for considerably longer when provided with a refuge, with increases from approximately 39 min to 36 h for H. margaritaceus and 8 min to 88 h for P. chrysurus. Despite H. margaritaceus having the strongest swimming ability without access to a refuge, P. chrysurus was able to maintain swimming activity more than twice as long as H. margaritaceus when provided with a refuge. These increases in activity are probably due to energetic savings, with this type of refuge providing an estimated 95% energy saving over swimming directly into a unidirectional flow of 60 cm s−1. These results highlight the major advantages provided by refuging behaviour and emphasise the importance of habitat refuges in shaping patterns of habitat use in reef fishes.

Item ID: 2862
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: water flow; refuging; sustained swimming; substratum; habitat use
ISSN: 1432-0975
Date Deposited: 21 Sep 2009 05:30
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060299 Ecology not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
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