The Ecology of Fishes on Coral Reefs

The Ecology of Fishes on Coral Reefs

Language: English

Pages: 754

ISBN: 0126151814

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


This book provides a comprehensive and up-to-date review of the ecology of coral reef fishes presented by top researchers from North America and Australia. Immense strides have been made over the past twenty years in our understanding of ecological systems in general and of reef fish ecology in particular. Many of the methodologies that reef fish ecologists use in their studies will be useful to a wider audience of ecologists for the design of their ecological studies. Significant among the impacts of the research on reef fish ecology are the development of nonequilibrium models of community organization, more emphasis on the role of recruitment variability in structuring local assemblages, the development and testing of evolutionary models of social organization and reproductive biology, and new insights into predator-prey and plant-herbivore interactions.

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fish studies have been conducted over the full geographic range of coral reef habitats, two major centers of activity and two schools of study have dominated the field for the last ten years. These are represented by the work of P. F. Sale and colleagues on the Great Barrier Reef of Australia and that of R. R. Warner in the Caribbean. Both groups have used labroid fishes as their primary study organisms. In addition to these groups, the literature on reef fish has been enriched by the studies of

and scale of patchiness that is quantitatively and qualitatively different from the other examples. This reflects the nature of reefs and the rapid responses of reefs to changes in sea level (Hubbard, 1988). As biogenic structures, reefs can maintain themselves as habitats in the face of changes in sea level and foundation subsidence (Rosen, 1984). The degree and pattern of reef patchiness depends on their origin and relationship to continental masses. On a broad spatial scale, reefs offer clues

shallow-water marine environments but are most strongly developed in tropical reef habitats. This is in contrast to the chaetodontids, acanthuroids, and labroids listed earlier that have obligate associations with the coral reef biota. Fishes on coral reefs display a wide range of sizes from gobiids maturing at 15 mm SL to epinephaline serranids that reach 2600 mm SL (Fig. 1). The largest species, members of the families Serranidae and Labridae and the complexes of lutjanidlike fishes, are

Hypsypops of the waters of subtropical Mexico and California. Historically, herbivorous fishes show abrupt discontinuities in the fossil record. Most are perciform teleosts which make a sudden appearance in early Eocene strata. There is little evidence of fishes with the structural and morphological characteristics of herbivores in the earlier radiations of actinopterygian fishes. Although many herbivores are distinct at their first appearance in the post-Cretaceous record, their history has been

5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Size Class (mm) Umbonium in sediments and in D. pictum guts 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Size Class (mm) Figure 3 (Continued) when prey populations are likely to be affected. Considerable spatial variability has been detected in the magnitude of the effects offish prédation (e.g., Neudecker, 1979; Keller, 1983; Reaka, 1985). However, without information on changes in the abundance of predators, the reasons for these patterns are not

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