Associations among coral reef macroalgae influence feeding by herbivorous fishes

Loffler, Z., Bellwood, D.R., and Hoey, A.S. (2015) Associations among coral reef macroalgae influence feeding by herbivorous fishes. Coral Reefs, 34 (1). pp. 51-55.

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Abstract

Benthic macroalgae often occur in close association with other macroalgae, yet the implications of such associations on coral reefs are unclear. We selected three pairs of commonly associated macroalgae on inshore reefs of the Great Barrier Reef and exposed them, either independently or paired, to herbivore assemblages. Pairing the palatable alga Acanthophora with the calcified and chemically defended Galaxaura resulted in a 69 % reduction in the consumption of Acanthophora, but had no effect on the consumption of Galaxaura. The reduced consumption of Acanthophora was related to 53–85 % reductions in the feeding rates of two herbivorous fish species, Kyphosus vaigiensis and Siganus doliatus. Neither Acanthophora nor Sargassum were afforded protection when paired with the brown macroalga Turbinaria. Although limited to one of the three species pairings, such associations between algae may allow the ecological persistence of palatable species in the face of intense herbivory, enhancing macroalgal diversity on coral reefs.

Item ID: 42053
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1432-0975
Keywords: associational refuge, herbivory, Great Barrier Reef, biodiversity
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Date Deposited: 08 Dec 2015 17:56
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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