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
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.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited