Contact with seaweed alters prey selectivity in a coral-feeding reef fish

Brooker, Rohan M., Sih, Tiffany L., and Dixson, Danielle (2017) Contact with seaweed alters prey selectivity in a coral-feeding reef fish. Marine Ecology - Progress Series, 580. pp. 239-244.

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Human-driven disturbance is fundamentally altering the composition of benthic marine communities. For instance, many coral reefs are experiencing declining coral cover alongside increased macroalgae (seaweed) abundance. While the responses of herbivorous fishes to sea-weeds are comparatively well understood, little is known regarding the responses of other important trophic guilds that interact with the benthic community, such as corallivores. To this end, we investigated how 2 species of seaweed (Galaxaura filamentosa and Sargassum polycystum) affected foraging in an obligate corallivorous fish, Oxymonacanthus longirostris. Corals with no seaweed contact were preferred over corals in contact with seaweed, regardless of the seaweed species. However, following seaweed removal, fish associated with, and fed on, all corals equally, suggesting that corals in contact with these seaweeds do not produce repellant chemical cues. This second finding contrasts with patterns seen in other corallivores, indicating that, while seaweeds may be generally repellent, sensory cues used to make foraging decisions may vary. Regardless, these findings provide further evidence that seaweeds negatively affect foraging in non-herbivorous fishes, which could have far-reaching impacts as habitat quality declines.

Item ID: 52027
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1616-1599
Keywords: macroalgae, corallivory, phase shifts, oxymonacanthus longirostris, disturbance
Funders: Yulgilbar Foundation Fellowship, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
Date Deposited: 17 Jan 2018 07:34
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310301 Behavioural ecology @ 50%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 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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