Diversity and structure of parrotfish assemblages across the northern Great Barrier Reef

Johnson, Garrett B., Taylor, Brett, Robbins, William D., Franklin, Erik C., Toonen, Rob, Bowen, Brian, and Choat, J. Howard (2019) Diversity and structure of parrotfish assemblages across the northern Great Barrier Reef. Diversity, 11 (1). 14.

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Abstract

The structure and dynamics of coral reef environments vary across a range of spatial scales, with patterns of associated faunal assemblages often reflecting this variability. However, delineating drivers of biological variability in such complex environments has proved challenging. Here, we investigated the assemblage structure and diversity of parrotfishesa common and ecologically important groupacross 6 degrees of latitude on the Northern Great Barrier Reef (GBR), Australia. Parrotfish abundance and biomass were determined from stereo-video surveys across 82 sites spanning 31 reefs and assessed against geographic, biophysical, and management-related factors in a multivariate framework to determine major drivers and associated scales of assemblage structure. Large cross-shelf variation in parrotfish assemblages pervaded along the entire Northern GBR, with distinct assemblages associated with sheltered and exposed reefs. Species abundances and diversity generally decreased with decreasing latitude. The gradient of explicit predator biomass associated with management zoning had no effect on parrotfish assemblage structure, but was positively correlated with parrotfish diversity. Our results highlight the ubiquitous presence of cross-shelf variation, where the greatest differences in parrotfish community composition existed between sheltered (inner and mid shelf) and exposed (outer shelf) reef systems. Prior attempts to explain linkages between parrotfishes and fine-scale biophysical factors have demonstrated parrotfishes as habitat generalists, but recent developments in nutritional ecology suggest that their cross-shelf variation on the GBR is likely reflective of benthic resource distribution and species-specific feeding modes.

Item ID: 57548
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1424-2818
Keywords: scarinae, Great Barrier Reef, phylogenetic diversity, habitat associations, multivariate, spatial scale, coral reef fishes, cross-shelf gradient
Copyright Information: © 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Funders: Khaled Bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation, National Science Foundation (NSF)
Projects and Grants: NSF grant OCE-15-58852
Date Deposited: 20 Mar 2019 07:44
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 50%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0603 Evolutionary Biology > 060309 Phylogeny and Comparative Analysis @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960507 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Marine Environments @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 50%
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