Demographic dynamics of the smallest marine vertebrates fuel coral reef ecosystem functioning

Brandl, Simon J., Tornabene, Luke, Goatley, Christopher H.R., Casey, Jordan M., Morais, Renato A., Côté, Isabelle M., Baldwin, Carole C., Parravicini, Valeriano, Schiettekatte, Nina M.D., and Bellwood, David R. (2019) Demographic dynamics of the smallest marine vertebrates fuel coral reef ecosystem functioning. Science, 364 (6446). pp. 1189-1192.

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How coral reefs survive as oases of life in low-productivity oceans has puzzled scientists for centuries. The answer may lie in internal nutrient cycling and/or input from the pelagic zone. Integrating meta-analysis, field data, and population modeling, we show that the ocean’s smallest vertebrates, cryptobenthic reef fishes, promote internal reef fish biomass production through extensive larval supply from the pelagic environment. Specifically, cryptobenthics account for two-thirds of reef fish larvae in the near-reef pelagic zone despite limited adult reproductive outputs. This overwhelming abundance of cryptobenthic larvae fuels reef trophodynamics via rapid growth and extreme mortality, producing almost 60% of consumed reef fish biomass. Although cryptobenthics are often overlooked, their distinctive demographic dynamics may make them a cornerstone of ecosystem functioning on modern coral reefs.

Item ID: 62078
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1095-9203
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Copyright Information: © 2019 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All rights reserved.
Funders: BNP Paribas Foundation, Agence National de la Recherche, Smithsonian Institution’s TMON, National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Australian Research Council (ARC)
Date Deposited: 12 Feb 2020 03:43
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050102 Ecosystem Function @ 60%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060202 Community Ecology (excl Invasive Species Ecology) @ 20%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 20%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 50%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 50%
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