Exploring the role of macroalgal traits on the feeding behaviour of a generalist herbivore in Malaysian waters
AbstractWith the potential adverse effects of climate change, it is essential to enhance the understanding of marine ecosystem dynamics, which can be driven by the co-evolutionary interaction between autotrophs and herbivores. This study looked into the autotroph-herbivore interactions in Malaysian waters, mainly to determine if autotroph nutritional quality significantly influences herbivore consumption rates. We documented the relative consumption rate of a generalist herbivore (Chanos chanos
... Forsskål) obtained from the Straits of Malacca through multiple feeding trials using 12 macroalgal species collected from different coastal areas of the Straits of Malacca, the Straits of Johor, and the South China Sea. The herbivore fed selectively on the tested macroalgal species, with the most and least consumed species having the lowest and highest total nitrogen content, respectively. Besides total nitrogen content, the least consumed species also had the highest total phenolic content. Interestingly, we observed that the herbivore generally preferred to consume filamentous macroalgae, especially those collected from the South China Sea. Overall, our findings demonstrated that the feeding behaviour of a generalist herbivore could be influenced by the nutritional quality of the autotrophs, which may depend directly or indirectly on other factors such as autotroph morphology and geography.