Foraging in corallivorous butterflyfish varies with wave exposure

Noble, Mae M., Pratchett, Morgan S., Coker, Darren J., Cvitanovic, Christopher, and Fulton, Christopher J. (2014) Foraging in corallivorous butterflyfish varies with wave exposure. Coral Reefs, 33 (2). pp. 351-361.

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Understanding the foraging patterns of reef fishes is crucial for determining patterns of resource use and the sensitivity of species to environmental change. While changes in prey availability and interspecific competition have been linked to patterns of prey selection, body condition, and survival in coral reef fishes, rarely has the influence of abiotic environmental conditions on foraging been considered. We used underwater digital video to explore how prey availability and wave exposure influence the behavioural time budgets and prey selectivity of four species of obligate coral-feeding butterflyfishes. All four species displayed high selectivity towards live hard corals, both in terms of time invested and frequency of searching and feeding events. However, our novel analysis revealed that such selectivity was sensitive to wave exposure in some species, despite there being no significant differences in the availability of each prey category across exposures. In most cases, these obligate corallivores increased their selectivity towards their most favoured prey types at sites of high wave exposure. This suggests there are costs to foraging under different wave environments that can shape the foraging patterns of butterflyfishes in concert with other conditions such as prey availability, interspecific competition, and territoriality. Given that energy acquisition is crucial to the survival and fitness of fishes, we highlight how such environmental forcing of foraging behaviour may influence the ecological response of species to the ubiquitous and highly variable wave climates of shallow coral reefs.

Item ID: 33417
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1432-0975
Keywords: feeding, searching, selectivity, prey availability, wave exposure
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Date Deposited: 28 May 2014 02:00
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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