The shape of success in a turbulent world: wave exposure filtering of coral reef herbivory

Bejarano, Sonia, Jouffray, Jean-Baptiste, Chollett, Iliana, Allen, Robert, Roff, George, Marshell, Alyssa, Steneck, Robert, Ferse, Sebastian C. A. and Mumby, Peter J. (2017) The shape of success in a turbulent world: wave exposure filtering of coral reef herbivory. Functional Ecology, 31 6: 1312-1324. doi:10.1111/1365-2435.12828

Author Bejarano, Sonia
Jouffray, Jean-Baptiste
Chollett, Iliana
Allen, Robert
Roff, George
Marshell, Alyssa
Steneck, Robert
Ferse, Sebastian C. A.
Mumby, Peter J.
Title The shape of success in a turbulent world: wave exposure filtering of coral reef herbivory
Journal name Functional Ecology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1365-2435
Publication date 2017-02-23
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/1365-2435.12828
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 31
Issue 6
Start page 1312
End page 1324
Total pages 13
Place of publication Chichester, West Sussex, United Kingdom
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing
Language eng
Formatted abstract
While environmental filters are well-known factors influencing community assembly, the extent to which these modify species functions, and entire ecosystem processes, is poorly understood. Focusing on a high-diversity system, we ask whether environmental filtering has ecosystem-wide effects beyond community assembly. We characterise a coral reef herbivorous fish community for swimming performance based on ten functional traits derived from fish morphology. We then investigate whether wave exposure modifies the functional make-up of herbivory, and the absolute and relative feeding frequency of distinct feeding functional groups. Herbivorous fish species conformed to either laterally compressed or fusiform body plans, which differ in their morphological design to minimise drag. High wave exposure selectively limited the feeding function of the deepest body shapes with highest caudal thrust efficiency, and favoured fusiform bodies irrespective of pectoral fin shape. Traditionally recognised herbivore feeding functional groups (i.e. grazers-detritivores and scrapers-small excavators) differed in swimming performance, and in their capacity to feed consistently across levels of wave exposure. We therefore emphasise the distinctness of their ecological niche and functional complementarity. Species within the same feeding functional group also had contrasting responses to wave exposure. We thereby reveal a further ecological dimension of niche partitioning, and reiterate the risk of assuming functional redundancy among species with a common feeding mode. Contrasting responses of species within feeding functional roles (i.e. response diversity) allowed the preservation of critical trophic functions throughout the gradient (e.g. macroalgal browsing), and likely explained why overall levels of herbivory were robust to filtering. Whether ecosystem functioning will remain robust under the additive effects of environmental stress and human-induced disturbances remains to be tested. A lay summary is available for this article.
Keyword Environmental filtering
Feeding frequency
Functional traits
Herbivorous fish
Species niches
Swimming performance
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

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