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Article

The Rabbitfish Siganus virgatus as Key Macroalgae Browser in Coral Reefs of the Gulf of Thailand

1
Marine Ecology and Coral Reef Ecology Group, Faculty of Biology and Chemistry, University of Bremen, 28359 Bremen, Germany
2
Center for Oceanic Research and Education–COREsea, Surat Thani 84280, Thailand
3
Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT) GmbH, 28359 Bremen, Germany
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Co-first author, these authors contributed equally to this work.
Deceased author.
Academic Editors: Kuʻulei Rodgers and Keisha Bahr
Diversity 2021, 13(3), 123; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13030123
Received: 7 February 2021 / Revised: 8 March 2021 / Accepted: 9 March 2021 / Published: 13 March 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Coral Reef Ecology and Biodiversity)
Coral reef resilience is greatly influenced by herbivory. There is a need to identify key fish species fulfilling this critical function in biogeographically distinct regions. This experimental in situ study investigated fish herbivory in coral reefs of the lower Gulf of Thailand characterized by a considerably low herbivorous fish biomass and diversity, but high live coral and low macroalgal cover. This provided an intriguing situation for macroalgal browsing research. Visual census techniques assessed the abundance of local herbivorous fish species, and filmed single-choice assays using the macroalga Turbinaria evaluated mass-standardized bites (ms-bites) and biomass removal. Multiple-choice assays offering four locally abundant macroalgae identified specific biomass removal and ms-bites to uncover selection and avoidance patterns of observed fish species. The rabbitfish Siganusvirgatus constituted only 39% of herbivore biomass but accounted for 90% of ms-bites. In multiple-choice assays, fishes took most (61%) bites on Sargassum, followed by Padina (28%) and Turbinaria (11%), while Lobophora was avoided. S. virgatus exhibited the most generalized browsing pattern of all species observed. Coinciding with recent studies, our findings suggest that S. virgatus plays a key functional role in reefs characterized by low diversity of herbivores and low functional redundancy. View Full-Text
Keywords: Siganus virgatus; macroalgae; browser; herbivorous fish; assay Siganus virgatus; macroalgae; browser; herbivorous fish; assay
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MDPI and ACS Style

Müller, M.; Staab, C.F.K.; Puk, L.D.; Schoenig, E.M.; Ferse, S.C.A.; Wild, C. The Rabbitfish Siganus virgatus as Key Macroalgae Browser in Coral Reefs of the Gulf of Thailand. Diversity 2021, 13, 123. https://doi.org/10.3390/d13030123

AMA Style

Müller M, Staab CFK, Puk LD, Schoenig EM, Ferse SCA, Wild C. The Rabbitfish Siganus virgatus as Key Macroalgae Browser in Coral Reefs of the Gulf of Thailand. Diversity. 2021; 13(3):123. https://doi.org/10.3390/d13030123

Chicago/Turabian Style

Müller, Malika, Constanze F.K. Staab, Laura D. Puk, Eike M. Schoenig, Sebastian C.A. Ferse, and Christian Wild. 2021. "The Rabbitfish Siganus virgatus as Key Macroalgae Browser in Coral Reefs of the Gulf of Thailand" Diversity 13, no. 3: 123. https://doi.org/10.3390/d13030123

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