Trophic separation in planktivorous reef fishes: a new role for mucus?

Huertas, Victor, and Bellwood, David R. (2020) Trophic separation in planktivorous reef fishes: a new role for mucus? Oecologia, 192 (3). pp. 813-822.

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The feeding apparatus directly influences a species' trophic ecology. In fishes, our understanding of feeding modes is largely derived from studies of rigid structures (i.e. bones, teeth, gill rakers). A recently described lip innovation, however, highlighted the role of soft anatomy in enabling specialized feeding modes. In this study, we explore whether similar diversification may also occur in the soft anatomy of the buccal cavity. Using four key anatomical traits to classify 19 species (14 genera) of wrasses, we evaluated the relationship between anatomical specialization of the buccal cavity and diet. Our data revealed a previously undocumented anatomical adaptation in the mouths of fairy wrasses (Cirrhilabrus): the mucosa throughout the buccal cavity (i.e. anterior to the pharynx) is packed with goblet cells, enabling it to secrete large quantities of mucus in this region; a new trait that, until now, had not been documented in wrasses. This disparity reflects diet differences, with mucus secretion found only in planktivorous Cirrhilabrus that feed predominantly on amorphous organic material (potentially gelatinous organisms). This suggests a cryptic mucus-based resource partitioning in planktivorous wrasses.

Item ID: 62554
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1432-1939
Keywords: Planktivory, Trophic ecology, Coral reefs, Labridae, Mucus
Copyright Information: © Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2020
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC), James Cook Postgraduate Research Scholarship
Projects and Grants: ARC Grant CE140100020, ARC Grant FL190100062
Date Deposited: 18 Mar 2020 07:43
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 100%
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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