Farming damselfishes shape algal turf sediment dynamics on coral reefs

Tebbett, Sterling B., Chase, Tory J., and Bellwood, David R. (2020) Farming damselfishes shape algal turf sediment dynamics on coral reefs. Marine Environmental Research, 160. 104988.

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Abstract

Farming damselfishes are well known for shaping benthic communities on reefs, in terms of both cultivating algae and increasing productivity. However, their capacity to shape relationships between algal turfs, detritus and sediments remains largely unknown, despite the importance of such relationships on reefs. We therefore examined the relationships between sediment loads and both algal turf length and detritus levels, inside and outside farming damselfish territories, at two reefs on the Great Barrier Reef. We found that, while sediment loads are tightly coupled with algal turfs outside territories, the nature of this coupling was fundamentally different inside damselfish territories, with significantly longer algal turfs and higher detritus levels prevailing, irrespective of sediment loads. These modified algal turf-sediment relationships may be a key factor in explaining, a) the significantly higher productivity levels reported from within farming damselfish territories and b) the ability of farming damselfishes to persist in high-sediment locations.

Item ID: 64689
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1879-0291
Keywords: Algal turf, Coral reef, Damselfish, Herbivory, Productivity, Sediment
Copyright Information: © 2020 Elsevier Ltd.
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC), Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship
Projects and Grants: DRB: grant number CE140100020, DRB: grant number FL190100062
Date Deposited: 21 Oct 2020 07:57
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 50%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410401 Conservation and biodiversity @ 50%
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