Local variation in herbivore feeding activity on an inshore reef of the Great Barrier Reef

Cvitanovic, C., and Bellwood, D.R. (2009) Local variation in herbivore feeding activity on an inshore reef of the Great Barrier Reef. Coral Reefs, 28 (1). pp. 127-133.

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Threats to coral reefs may be manifested through an increase in macroalgae. Across the globe, phase-shifts from coral to macroalgal dominance have been reported from the Caribbean, Indian and Pacific Oceans. While the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is in relatively good condition, inshore reefs may exhibit over 50% macroalgal cover. However, our understanding of the processes preventing the macroalgal expansion remains uncertain. Using a remote video bioassay approach, this study quantified herbivory in three bays along the leeward margin of Orpheus Island. Despite significant with-in bay variation in herbivory there was no detectable statistical difference in the rates of herbivory among bays. Furthermore, of the 45 herbivore species recorded from the island, only three played a significant role in bioassay removal, Siganus canaliculatus, Siganus javus and Kyphosus vaigiensis, with only one species predominating in each bay. Reefs of the GBR may therefore be more vulnerable than previously thought, with the removal of macroalgae depending on just a few species, which exhibit considerable spatial variability in their feeding behaviour.

Item ID: 4799
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1432-0975
Keywords: herbivory, macroalgae, Kyphosus vaigiensis, bioassay, spatial variation, phase-shifts, coral reef, reef fish ecology, marine biology, ecosystem function, OIRS
Date Deposited: 21 Jul 2009 06:27
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 50%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060299 Ecology not elsewhere classified @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960508 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Mining Environments @ 100%
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