No change in subordinate butterflyfish diets following removal of behaviourally dominant species

Blowes, Shane A., Pratchett, Morgan S., and Connolly, Sean R. (2017) No change in subordinate butterflyfish diets following removal of behaviourally dominant species. Coral Reefs, 36. pp. 213-222.

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Direct interference interactions between species are often mediated by aggression and related to resource use. Interference interactions are frequently asymmetric, whereby one species wins the majority of interactions; however, the effect of this asymmetry on the diet of subordinate species has not received the same attention as the impact of interference on habitat use. Here we experimentally evaluated whether release from asymmetric interference led to increased use of a preferred dietary resource by subordinate species, using coral-feeding butterflyfishes as a model system. Following experimental removal of the behaviourally dominant species, we found no change in diet breadth or foraging on the preferred resource by subordinate species. Our results suggest that release from asymmetric interspecific interference does not necessarily result in changes to subordinate species' diets, at least not over the course of our study. Rather, consistently asymmetric interactions may contribute to behavioural conditioning of subordinate species, meaning that even in the absence of dominants, subordinate individuals maintain established feeding patterns. Additionally, our results suggest that antagonistic interactions between butterflyfishes may have contributed to niche partitioning and conservatism over evolutionary time scales.

Item ID: 47554
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1432-0975
Keywords: interference competition, experimental removal, coral reefs, butterflyfishes
Funders: James Cook University (JCU), Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: Queensland Smart State Fellowship
Date Deposited: 30 Mar 2017 23:37
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 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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