Growth of reef fishes in response to live coral cover

Feary, David A., McCormick, Mark I., and Jones, Geoffrey P. (2009) Growth of reef fishes in response to live coral cover. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 373 (1). pp. 45-49.

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Although the global decline in coral reef health is likely to have profound effects on reef associated fishes, these effects are poorly understood. While declining coral cover can reduce the abundance of reef fishes through direct effects on recruitment and/or mortality, recent evidence suggests that individuals may survive in disturbed habitats, but may experience sublethal reductions in their condition. This study examined the response of 2 coral associated damselfishes (Pomacentridae), Chrysiptera parasema and Dascyllus melanurus, to varying levels of live coral cover. Growth, persistence, and the condition of individuals were quantified on replicate coral colonies in 3 coral treatments: 100% live coral (control), 50% live coral (partial) and 0% live coral (dead). The growth rates of both species were directly related to the percentage live coral cover, with individuals associated with dead corals exhibiting the slowest growth, and highest growth on control corals. Such differences in individual growth between treatments were apparent after 29 d. There was no significant difference in the numbers of fishes persisting or the physiological condition of individuals between different treatments on this time-scale. Slower growth in disturbed habitats will delay the onset of maturity, reduce lifetime fecundity and increase individual's vulnerability to gape-limited predation. Hence, immediate effects on recruitment and survival may underestimate the longer-term impacts of declining coral on the structure and diversity of coral-associated reef fish communities.

Item ID: 5245
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 0022-0981
Keywords: coral cover; coral reef; coral reef fish; growth; physiology; Pomacentridae; marine science; ecology; environment climate change; conservation
Date Deposited: 10 Sep 2009 23:11
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity @ 40%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 40%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050101 Ecological Impacts of Climate Change @ 20%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960801 Antarctic and Sub-Antarctic Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 40%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960307 Effects of Climate Change and Variability on Australia (excl. Social Impacts) @ 40%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970105 Expanding Knowledge in the Environmental Sciences @ 20%
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