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Open AccessArticle

Inter-Habitat Variability in Parrotfish Bioerosion Rates and Grazing Pressure on an Indian Ocean Reef Platform

1
Geography, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, Exeter EX4 4RJ, UK
2
Biosciences, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, Exeter EX4 4QD, UK
3
Institute of Environment and Department of Biological Sciences, Florida International University, North Miami, FL 33181, USA
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Diversity 2020, 12(10), 381; https://doi.org/10.3390/d12100381
Received: 23 August 2020 / Revised: 20 September 2020 / Accepted: 28 September 2020 / Published: 2 October 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodiversity and Ecology of Herbivorous Fish)
Parrotfish perform a variety of vital ecological functions on coral reefs, but we have little understanding of how these vary spatially as a result of inter-habitat variability in species assemblages. Here, we examine how two key ecological functions that result from parrotfish feeding, bioerosion and substrate grazing, vary between habitats over a reef scale in the central Maldives. Eight distinct habitats were delineated in early 2015, prior to the 2016 bleaching event, each supporting a unique parrotfish assemblage. Bioerosion rates varied from 0 to 0.84 ± 0.12 kg m−2 yr−1 but were highest in the coral rubble- and Pocillopora spp.-dominated habitat. Grazing pressure also varied markedly between habitats but followed a different inter-habitat pattern from that of bioerosion, with different contributing species. Total parrotfish grazing pressure ranged from 0 to ~264 ± 16% available substrate grazed yr-1 in the branching Acropora spp.-dominated habitat. Despite the importance of these functions in influencing reef-scale physical structure and ecological health, the highest rates occurred over less than 30% of the platform area. The results presented here provide new insights into within-reef variability in parrotfish ecological functions and demonstrate the importance of considering how these interact to influence reef geo-ecology. View Full-Text
Keywords: coral reefs; parrotfish; bioerosion; grazing; ecological functions coral reefs; parrotfish; bioerosion; grazing; ecological functions
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Yarlett, R.T.; Perry, C.T.; Wilson, R.W.; Harborne, A.R. Inter-Habitat Variability in Parrotfish Bioerosion Rates and Grazing Pressure on an Indian Ocean Reef Platform. Diversity 2020, 12, 381.

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