Inter-Habitat Variability in Parrotfish Bioerosion Rates and Grazing Pressure on an Indian Ocean Reef Platform

Robert T. Yarlett, Chris T. Perry, Rod W. Wilson, Alastair R. Harborne
2020 Diversity  
Parrotfish perform a variety of vital ecological functions on coral reefs, but we have little understanding of how these vary spatially as a result of inter-habitat variability in species assemblages. Here, we examine how two key ecological functions that result from parrotfish feeding, bioerosion and substrate grazing, vary between habitats over a reef scale in the central Maldives. Eight distinct habitats were delineated in early 2015, prior to the 2016 bleaching event, each supporting a
more » ... e parrotfish assemblage. Bioerosion rates varied from 0 to 0.84 ± 0.12 kg m−2 yr−1 but were highest in the coral rubble- and Pocillopora spp.-dominated habitat. Grazing pressure also varied markedly between habitats but followed a different inter-habitat pattern from that of bioerosion, with different contributing species. Total parrotfish grazing pressure ranged from 0 to ~264 ± 16% available substrate grazed yr-1 in the branching Acropora spp.-dominated habitat. Despite the importance of these functions in influencing reef-scale physical structure and ecological health, the highest rates occurred over less than 30% of the platform area. The results presented here provide new insights into within-reef variability in parrotfish ecological functions and demonstrate the importance of considering how these interact to influence reef geo-ecology.
doi:10.3390/d12100381 fatcat:h7c6zz43irdebn2no4orfgyxim