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Primacy of bottom-up effects on a butterflyfish assemblage

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Leahy, S. M., Russ, G. R. and Abesamis, R. A. (2016) Primacy of bottom-up effects on a butterflyfish assemblage. Marine and Freshwater Research, 67 (8). pp. 1175-1185.


Article Link: https://doi.org/10.1071/MF15012

Publisher URL: https://www.publish.csiro.au/paper/MF15012


The question of whether biological systems are maintained by top-down versus bottom-up drivers is a recurring one in ecology. It is a particularly important question to address in the management of coral reefs, which are at risk from a variety of anthropogenic stressors. Here, we explicitly test whether the abundance of different feeding guilds of coral-associated Chaetodon butterflyfishes are controlled by top-down or bottom-up drivers, and we assess the relative influence of all statistically significant drivers. We find that the abundance and species richness of Chaetodon butterflyfishes are predominately determined by bottom-up drivers. The abundance of corallivores is primarily driven by availability of branching and tabular live corals, whereas the abundance of generalists is most strongly influenced by a negative association with macroalgal cover. We also find evidence of weak top-down control on the abundance of corallivorous butterflyfish by gape-limited mesopredators, but no such effects on generalist butterflyfish. Our findings indicate that conservation of coral reefs for Chaetodon butterflyfishes must include management at a larger spatial scale in order to reduce the effect of coral reef stressors such as declining water quality and climate change, but should also include implementation of fisheries management tools in order to increase local herbivory.

Item Type:Article
Corporate Creators:Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland
Business groups:Animal Science
Keywords:boosted regression trees, butterflyfish, Chaetodon, Coral Triangle, macroalgae, mesopredator.
Subjects:Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Agriculture and the environment
Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Conservation of natural resources
Aquaculture and Fisheries > Fisheries > Fishery conservation
Aquaculture and Fisheries > Fisheries > Fishery research
Aquaculture and Fisheries > Fisheries > Fishery for individual species
Live Archive:15 Mar 2024 07:11
Last Modified:15 Mar 2024 07:11

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