Herbivores strongly influence algal recruitment in both coral- and algal-dominated coral reef habitats

Doropoulos, Christopher, Hyndes, Glenn A., Abecasis, David and Verges, Adriana (2013) Herbivores strongly influence algal recruitment in both coral- and algal-dominated coral reef habitats. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 486 153-164. doi:10.3354/meps10325

Author Doropoulos, Christopher
Hyndes, Glenn A.
Abecasis, David
Verges, Adriana
Title Herbivores strongly influence algal recruitment in both coral- and algal-dominated coral reef habitats
Journal name Marine Ecology Progress Series   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0171-8630
Publication date 2013-01
Year available 2013
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.3354/meps10325
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 486
Start page 153
End page 164
Total pages 12
Place of publication Oldendorf, Germany
Publisher Inter-Research
Collection year 2014
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Coral reefs can exist as coral- and macroalgae-dominated habitats often separated by only a few hundred metres. While herbivorous fish are known to depress the abundance of algae and help maintain the function of coral-dominated habitats, less is known about their influence in algae-dominated habitats. Here, we quantified herbivorous fish and benthic algal communities over a 6 mo period in coral-dominated (back-reef) and algal-dominated (lagoon) habitats in a relatively undisturbed fringing coral reef (Ningaloo, Western Australia). Simultaneously, we tested the effects of herbivorous fish on algal recruitment in both habitats using recruitment tiles and fish exclusion cages. The composition of established algal communities differed consistently between habitats, with the back-reef hosting a more diverse community than the Sargassum-dominated lagoon. However, total algal biomass and cover only differed between habitats in autumn, coinciding with maximum Sargassum biomass. The back-reef hosted high coral cover and a diverse herbivorous fish community, with herbivore biomass an order of magnitude greater than the lagoon. Despite these differences in herbivore composition, exclusion of large herbivores had a similar positive effect to foliose macroalgae recruitment on experimental tiles in both back-reef and lagoon habitats. Additionally, territorial damselfish found in the backreef increased turf algae cover and decreased crustose coralline algae cover on recruitment tiles. Collectively, our results show that disparate herbivorous fish communities in coral- and algaedominated habitats are similarly able to limit the recruitment of foliose macroalgae, but suggest that when herbivorous fish biomass and diversity are relatively low, macroalgal communities are able to escape herbivore control through increased growth.
Keyword Functional group
Turf algae
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2014 Collection
School of Biological Sciences Publications
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