Small coral reef fishes with large ecological footprints

Collins, William P., Bellwood, David R., and Morais, Renato A. (2024) Small coral reef fishes with large ecological footprints. Coral Reefs, 43. pp. 233-242.

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Seascape connectivity can facilitate key ecosystem functions in complex ecosystems like coral reefs. Many reef fishes move across the seascape, bridging different ecosystems. However, their role in shaping important functions, such as biomass production and nutrient cycling, is still poorly understood. This study, therefore, assesses the extent of natural movements of cardinalfishes (Apogonidae), one of the major contributors to nocturnal fish biomass production with the potential for a major role in transferring energy and nutrients between sandy ecosystems and adjacent coral reefs. Consistent with previous work, showing their ability to move distances of 100 s to 1000 s of metres when displaced, we reveal that these small fishes undergo major voluntary nocturnal foraging forays extending up to at least 145 m from reef structures. Their estimated daily movement distances are at least 430 times greater than expected based solely on body size-home range expectations. Given their large travel distances and strong homing abilities, apogonids may provide a major conduit for material transfer between lagoonal soft sediment habitats and adjacent coral reefs. These results highlight the potential importance of apogonids in the cross-system or cross-habitat transport of energy and nutrients on coral reefs.

Item ID: 79041
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1432-0975
Keywords: Apogonidae, Coral reefs, Function, Movement, Nocturnal, Nutrient transport
Copyright Information: © The Author(s) 2023. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: ARC FL190100062
Date Deposited: 07 Nov 2023 23:20
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 28 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 2801 Expanding knowledge > 280102 Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences @ 100%
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