Heterospecific aggression and dominance in a guild of coral-feeding fishes: the roles of dietary ecology and phylogeny

Blowes, Shane A., Pratchett, Morgan S., and Connolly, Sean R. (2013) Heterospecific aggression and dominance in a guild of coral-feeding fishes: the roles of dietary ecology and phylogeny. American Naturalist, 182 (2). pp. 157-168.

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Interspecific competition mediates biodiversity maintenance and is an important selective pressure for evolution. Competition is often conceptualized as being exploitative (indirect) or involving direct interference. However, most empirical studies are phenomenological, focusing on quantifying effects of density manipulations, and most competition theory has characterized exploitation competition systems. The effects on resource use of traits associated with direct, interference competition has received far less attention. Here we examine the relationships of dietary ecology and phylogeny to heterospecific aggression in a guild of corallivorous reef fishes. We find that, among chaetodontids (butterflyfishes), heterospecific aggression depends on a synergistic interaction of dietary overlap and specialization: aggression increases with dietary overlap for interactions between specialists but not for interactions involving generalists. Moreover, behavioral dominance is a monotonically increasing function of dietary specialization. The strong, positive relationship of dominance to specialization suggests that heterospecific aggression may contribute to the maintenance of biodiversity where it promotes resource partitioning. Additionally, we find strong phylogenetic signals in dietary overlap and specialization but not behavioral dominance. Our results support the use of phylogeny as a proxy for ecological similarity among butterflyfishes, but we find that direct measures of dietary overlap and specialization predict heterospecific agression much better than phylogeny.

Item ID: 28879
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1537-5323
Keywords: aggression, dominance, interference competition, specialization, phylogenetic similarity, Chaetodontidae, butterflyfishes
Funders: James Cook University (JCU), Australian Research Council (ARC), Queensland Government
Research Data: https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.c3p08
Date Deposited: 21 Aug 2013 05:26
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
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