Macroalgal browsing on a heavily degraded, urbanized equatorial reef system

Bauman, Andrew G., Hoey, Andrew S., Dunshea, Glenn, Feary, David A., Low, Jeffrey, and Todd, Peter A. (2017) Macroalgal browsing on a heavily degraded, urbanized equatorial reef system. Scientific Reports, 7 (1).

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Abstract

The removal of macroalgal biomass is critical to the health of coral reef ecosystems. Previous studies on relatively intact reefs with diverse and abundant fish communities have quantified rapid removal of macroalgae by herbivorous fishes, yet how these findings rel ate to degraded reef systems where fish diversity and abundance are markedly lower and algal biomass substantially higher, is unclear. We surveyed roving herbivorous fish communities and quantified their capacity to remove the dominant macroalga Sargassum ilicifolium on seven reefs in Singapore; a heavily degraded urbanized reef system. The diversity and abundance of herbivorous fishes was extremely low, with eight species and a mean abundance ~1.1 individuals 60 m -2 recorded across reefs. Consumption of S. ilicifolium varied with distance from Singapore's main port with consumption being 3- to 17-fold higher on reefs furthest from the port (Pulau Satumu: 4.18 g h -1 ; Kusu Island: 2.38 g h -1 ) than reefs closer to the port (0.35-0.78 g h -1 ). Video observations revealed a single species, Siganus virgatus, was almost solely responsible for removing S. ilicifolium biomass, accounting for 83% of the mass-standardized bites. Despite low herbivore diversity and intense urbanization, macroalgal removal by fishes on some Singaporean reefs was directly comparable to rates reported for other inshore Indo-Pacific reefs.

Item ID: 54100
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Additional Information:

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

ISSN: 2045-2322
Funders: AXA postdoctoral fellowship (AXA), Singapore National Research Foundation (SNRF)
Projects and Grants: AXA project no. 154-000-649-507, SMRF project no: R-154-001-A25-281 MSRDP-P03
Date Deposited: 15 Jun 2018 04:40
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9612 Rehabilitation of Degraded Environments > 961201 Rehabilitation of Degraded Coastal and Estuarine Environments @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9604 Control of Pests, Diseases and Exotic Species > 960407 Control of Pests, Diseases and Exotic Species in Marine Environments @ 50%
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