Müller, Malika, Staab, Constanze F. K., Puk, Laura D., Schoenig, Eike M., Ferse, Sebastian C. A. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0930-5356 and Wild, Christian (2021) The Rabbitfish Siganus virgatus as Key Macroalgae Browser in Coral Reefs of the Gulf of Thailand. Diversity, 13 (3). p. 123. DOI https://doi.org/10.3390/d13030123.

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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.

Document Type: Article
Programme Area: PA2
Research affiliation: Affiliations > Not ZMT
Science Management > Future Earth Coasts Office
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: Yes
DOI etc.: https://doi.org/10.3390/d13030123
ISSN: 1424-2818
Date Deposited: 16 Mar 2021 14:34
Last Modified: 24 Nov 2021 12:51
URI: http://cris.leibniz-zmt.de/id/eprint/4543

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