Consumption of benthic cyanobacterial mats on a Caribbean coral reef

Last modified: 
December 13, 2019 - 11:51am
Type: Journal Article
Year of publication: 2019
Date published: 09/2019
Authors: Ethan Cissell, Joshua Manning, Sophie McCoy
Journal title: Scientific Reports
Volume: 9
Issue: 1

Herbivory is an important process in the general structuring of coral reef benthic communities. However, evidence of its ability to control coral reef benthic cyanobacterial mats, which have recently proliferated on reefs worldwide, remains ambivalent. Here, we report that the French Angelfish (Pomacanthus paru), Striped Parrotfish (Scarus iseri), Rock Beauty (Holacanthus tricolor), Ocean Surgeonfish (Acanthurus bahianus), Blue Parrotfish (Scarus coeruleus), and Atlantic Blue Tang (Acanthurus coeruleus) consume benthic cyanobacterial mats on coral reefs in Bonaire, Netherlands. We documented the foraging patterns of Pparu and Siseri, and found that benthic cyanobacterial mats comprised 36.7% ± 5.8% and 15.0% ± 1.53% (mean ± standard error) of the total bites taken by Pparu and Siseri respectively. This magnitude of consumption suggests that grazing by reef fishes may represent a potentially important, but previously undocumented, top-down control on benthic cyanobacterial mats on Caribbean reefs.

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