Primacy of bottom-up effects on a butterflyfish assemblage

Leahy, Susannah M., Russ, Garry R., and Abesamis, Rene A. (2016) Primacy of bottom-up effects on a butterflyfish assemblage. Marine and Freshwater Research, 67 (8). pp. 1175-1185.

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The question of whether biological systems are maintained by top-down versus bottom-up drivers is a recurring one in ecology. It is a particularly important question to address in the management of coral reefs, which are at risk from a variety of anthropogenic stressors. Here, we explicitly test whether the abundance of different feeding guilds of coral-associated Chaetodon butterflyfishes are controlled by top-down or bottom-up drivers, and we assess the relative influence of all statistically significant drivers. We find that the abundance and species richness of Chaetodon butterflyfishes are predominately determined by bottom-up drivers. The abundance of corallivores is primarily driven by availability of branching and tabular live corals, whereas the abundance of generalists is most strongly influenced by a negative association with macroalgal cover. We also find evidence of weak top-down control on the abundance of corallivorous butterflyfish by gape-limited mesopredators, but no such effects on generalist butterflyfish. Our findings indicate that conservation of coral reefs for Chaetodon butterflyfishes must include management at a larger spatial scale in order to reduce the effect of coral reef stressors such as declining water quality and climate change, but should also include implementation of fisheries management tools in order to increase local herbivory.

Item ID: 43200
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1448-6059
Keywords: boosted regression trees, butterflyfish, Chaetodon, Coral Triangle, macroalgae, mesopredator
Funders: ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, Australian Society for Fish Biology
Date Deposited: 11 Apr 2016 23:32
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 50%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 50%
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