Lilkendey, Julian ORCID:, Barrelet, Cyril, Zhang, Jingjing, Meares, Michael, Larbi, Houssam, Subsol, Gérard, Chaumont, Marc and Sabetian, Armagan (2024) Herbivorous fish feeding dynamics and energy expenditure on a coral reef: Insights from stereo‐video and AI‐driven 3D tracking. Ecology and Evolution, 14 (3). DOI

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Unveiling the intricate relationships between animal movement ecology, feeding behavior, and internal energy budgeting is crucial for a comprehensive understanding of ecosystem functioning, especially on coral reefs under significant anthropogenic stress. Here, herbivorous fishes play a vital role as mediators between algae growth and coral recruitment. Our research examines the feeding preferences, bite rates, inter-bite distances, and foraging energy expenditure of the Brown surgeonfish (Acanthurus nigrofuscus) and the Yellowtail tang (Zebrasoma xanthurum) within the fish community on a Red Sea coral reef. To this end, we used advanced methods such as remote underwater stereo-video, AI-driven object recognition, species classification, and 3D tracking. Despite their comparatively low biomass, the two surgeonfish species significantly influence grazing pressure on the studied coral reef. A. nigrofuscus exhibits specialized feeding preferences and Z. xanthurum a more generalist approach, highlighting niche differentiation and their importance in maintaining reef ecosystem balance. Despite these differences in their foraging strategies, on a population level, both species achieve a similar level of energy efficiency. This study highlights the transformative potential of cutting-edge technologies in revealing the functional feeding traits and energy utilization of keystone species. It facilitates the detailed mapping of energy seascapes, guiding targeted conservation efforts to enhance ecosystem health and biodiversity.

Document Type: Article
Programme Area: PA2
Research affiliation: Ecology
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: Yes
ISSN: 2045-7758
Date Deposited: 02 Apr 2024 14:58
Last Modified: 02 Apr 2024 14:58

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