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

Seascape Configuration and Fine-Scale Habitat Complexity Shape Parrotfish Distribution and Function across a Coral Reef Lagoon

Department of Ecology, Environment & Plant Sciences, Stockholm University, 10691 Stockholm, Sweden
College of Marine Science, University of South Florida, 140 7th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701, USA
Gulf Shellfish Institute, 1905 Intermodal Circle, Suite 330, Palmetto, FL 34221, USA
Research School of Biology, The Australian National University, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia
Centro de Formação em Ciências Ambientais, Universidade Federal do Sul da Bahia, Campus Sosígenes Costa, Porto Seguro 45810-000, Brazil
Oceans Institute, University of Western Australia, Crawley WA 6009, Australia
Marine Science Program, Department of Biodiversity, Conservation & Attractions, Government of Western Australia, Kensington WA 6151, Australia
Department of Aquatic Resources, Institute of Coastal Research, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Skolgatan 6, SE-742 42 Öregrund, Sweden
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Diversity 2020, 12(10), 391;
Received: 14 August 2020 / Revised: 6 October 2020 / Accepted: 9 October 2020 / Published: 13 October 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodiversity and Ecology of Herbivorous Fish)
Structural complexity spanning fine to broad spatial scales can influence the distribution and activity of key organisms within marine ecosystems. However, the relative importance of hard (e.g., corals) and/or soft (e.g., macroalgae) structural complexity for marine organisms is often unclear. This study shows how both broad-scale (seascape configuration of coral structure) and fine-scale habitat complexity (structure height, number of holes, and presence of macroalgae) can influence the abundance and spatial ecology of reef fish. Underwater visual census of fish, surveys of habitats, remote underwater videos, and behavioral observations by following individual fish were used to quantify fine-scale habitat characteristics (e.g., complexity, coral structure height, macroalgae presence) and the abundance, size structure, and behavior (rates of herbivory, tortuosity ratios and total distance travelled) of abundant parrotfish. Both seascape configuration and macroalgae influenced the patterns of fish abundance and rates of herbivory. However, these relationships varied with trophic groups and ontogenetic stages. Abundance of adult and intermediate-phase parrotfishes was positively influenced by densely aggregated coral structures, whereas juvenile abundance was positively influenced by the presence of macroalgae. Foraging path and bite rates of an abundant parrotfish, Chlorurus spilurus, were not influenced by coral structure configuration or height, but the presence of macroalgae increased the bite rates of all juvenile parrotfish. Our results suggest that a combination of seascape configuration, fine-scale habitat complexity, and microhabitat selectivity influence reef fish community structure and foraging behavior, thus altering herbivory. However, these relationships can differ among functional groups of fish and life-history stages. Information on these fish–habitat interactions is critical for identifying habitats that facilitate ecological functions and ensures the successful management and conservation of essential habitats. View Full-Text
Keywords: herbivorous fish; functional diversity; ecosystem function herbivorous fish; functional diversity; ecosystem function
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Eggertsen, M.; Chacin, D.H.; van Lier, J.; Eggertsen, L.; Fulton, C.J.; Wilson, S.; Halling, C.; Berkström, C. Seascape Configuration and Fine-Scale Habitat Complexity Shape Parrotfish Distribution and Function across a Coral Reef Lagoon. Diversity 2020, 12, 391.

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