The functional roles of surgeonfishes on coral reefs: past, present and future

Tebbett, Sterling, Siqueira Correa, Alexandre, and Bellwood, David (2022) The functional roles of surgeonfishes on coral reefs: past, present and future. Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries, 32. pp. 387-439.

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Abstract

Surgeonfishes have had a long evolutionary history that has been closely linked with coral reef ecosystems. Today they are a key component of reef fish assemblages, playing a pivotal role in a variety of ecosystem functions. However, coral reefs are at the forefront of environmental change with a suite of stressors pushing these ecosystems towards alternative configurations. The role of surgeonfishes in these ecosystems may be changing and our understanding of these fishes must now be considered within a context of change. To explore these issues, we review the literature on surgeonfishes and examine (1) how their functional roles on coral reefs have evolved over the past 50 million years, (2) the key functions performed by surgeonfishes on present-day coral reefs, and (3) predict how the nature and importance of these roles may change in the near future (~ 30 years). Specifically, we draw on recently clarified functional frameworks to categorise surgeonfishes into six broad functional groups (browsers, brushers, croppers, concealed croppers, sediment-suckers, water-column feeders) using morphological and behavioural traits. Subsequently, we explore how these functional groups make critical contributions to the ecosystem processes of macroalgal removal, algal turf removal, detritus removal, sediment dynamics, plankton harvesting and cross-habitat trophic linkages. Furthermore, using this framework we consider how environmental factors, anthropogenic stressors, as well as other behavioural and morphological traits can shape the delivery of key functions by surgeonfishes. Finally, we highlight how surgeonfishes may play increasingly important roles in supporting key functions and services on current and future, highly-altered, coral reefs.

Item ID: 74403
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1573-5184
Copyright Information: © The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021.
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: ARC CE140100020, ARC FL190100062
Date Deposited: 08 Jun 2022 00:07
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310302 Community ecology (excl. invasive species ecology) @ 50%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 50%
SEO Codes: 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1802 Coastal and estuarine systems and management > 180203 Coastal or estuarine biodiversity @ 100%
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