Ecological and morphological traits predict depth-generalist fishes on coral reefs

Bridge, Tom C.L., Luiz, Osmar J., Coleman, Richard R., Kane, Corinne N., and Kosaki, Randall K. (2016) Ecological and morphological traits predict depth-generalist fishes on coral reefs. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B, Biological Sciences, 283 (1823). pp. 1-9.

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Abstract

Ecological communities that utilise similar habitats may exhibit functional convergence despite significant geographic distances and taxonomic dissimilarity. On coral reefs, steep gradients in key environmental variables (e.g. light and wave energy) restrict some species to shallow depths. We show that depth-generalist reef fishes are correlated with two species-level traits: caudal fin aspect ratio and diet. Fishes with high aspect ratio (lunate) caudal fins produce weaker vortices in the water column while swimming, and we propose that 'silent swimming' reduces the likelihood of detection and provides an advantage on deeper reefs with lower light irradiance and water motion. Significant differences in depth preference among trophic guilds reflect variations in the availability of different food sources along a depth gradient. The significance of these two traits across three geographically and taxonomically distinct assemblages suggests that deep water habitats exert a strong environmental filter on coral reef fish assemblages.

Item ID: 42159
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: environmental filtering, caudal fin, aspect ratio, trophic guild, mesophotic
ISSN: 1471-2954
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC), Macquarie University (MQ), National Science Foundation (NSF), Office of the National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS), Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument
Projects and Grants: NSF grant no. DGE-329626, ONMS Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Award no. NA15NOS4290067
Date Deposited: 23 Dec 2015 06:00
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060202 Community Ecology (excl Invasive Species Ecology) @ 50%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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