Aggression, interference, and the functional response of coral-feeding butterflyfishes

Blowes, Shane A., Pratchett, Morgan S., and Connolly, Sean R. (2017) Aggression, interference, and the functional response of coral-feeding butterflyfishes. Oecologia, 184 (3). pp. 675-684.

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Abstract

Functional responses describing how foraging rates change with respect to resource density are central to our understanding of interspecific interactions. Competitive interactions are an important determinant of foraging rates; however, the relationship between the exploitation and interference components of competition has received little empirical or theoretical consideration. Moreover, little is known about the relationship between aggressive behavioural interactions and interference competition. Using a natural gradient of consumer and resource densities, we empirically examine how aggressiveness relates to consumer-consumer encounter rates and foraging for four species of Chaetodon reef fish spanning a range of dietary niche breadths. The probability of aggression was most strongly associated with both total consumer and resource densities. In contrast, total encounter rates were best predicted by conspecific consumer density, and were highest for the most specialised consumer (Chaetodon trifascialis), not the most aggressive (Chaetodon baronessa). The most specialised consumer, not the most aggressive, also exhibited the largest reduction in foraging rates with increasing consumer density. Our results support the idea of a positive link between the exploitation and interference components of competition for the most specialised consumer. Moreover, our results caution against inferring the presence of ecological interactions (competition) from observations of behaviour (aggression and agonism) alone.

Item ID: 50300
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1432-1939
Keywords: territoriality, Butterflyfish, Chaetodontidae, competition, coral reef, prey risk
Funders: James Cook University, Australian Research Council (ARC), Queensland Smart State Fellowship
Date Deposited: 20 Sep 2017 07:44
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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