Life history patterns shape energy allocation among fishes on coral reefs

Depczynski, Martial, Fulton, Christopher J., Marnane, Michael J., and Bellwood, David R. (2007) Life history patterns shape energy allocation among fishes on coral reefs. Oecologia, 153 (1). pp. 111-120.

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Abstract

Although critically important, the link between animal life histories and ecosystem energetics is seldom explored. In the pursuit of ecological simplification, ecosystem properties are typically described by models based on static counts, where organisms are aggregated into trophic- or size-based groups. Consequently, output is often based on an assumption that larger group biomass equals greater energetic contribution. Here, we modelled the individual growth of over 58,000 fishes from 74 genera within a coral reef ecosystem to investigate the role and importance of taxon-specific life histories to the division, spatial distribution and relative contribution of biomass production within 14 coral reef fish families. Rank changes among families in standing biomass to biomass production indicated that small cryptic families (e.g. Gobiidae and Blenniidae) exhibit collective growth potentials equal to or exceeding those of many other common families composed of individuals with body-sizes 1–3 orders of magnitude larger. Remaining at high risk of predation throughout their lives as a consequence of their small size, these cryptic fishes also provide a constant food resource and supply of reproductive energy to coral reefs throughout the year. Enhanced further by the strength and diversity of their trophic relationships within food webs, the highly productive nature of these small cryptic fishes suggests they make a substantial contribution to the flow of energy in coral reef ecosystems via predatory pathways. It appears that life histories leave a strong imprint on ecosystem energy fluxes and illustrate the importance of incorporating taxon-specific features when assigning values to key ecosystem processes.

Item ID: 2898
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: ecosystem energetics; food webs; growth; metabolism; biomass productivity
ISSN: 1432-1939
Date Deposited: 22 Sep 2009 23:53
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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