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Title: Clarifying functional roles: algal removal by the surgeonfishes Ctenochaetus striatus and Acanthurus nigrofuscus
Contributor(s): Tebbett, Sterling B (author); Goatley, Christopher  (author)orcid ; Bellwood, David R (author)
Publication Date: 2017
DOI: 10.1007/s00338-017-1571-z
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Abstract: The lined bristletooth, Ctenochaetus striatus, and the brown surgeonfish, Acanthurus nigrofuscus, are among the most abundant surgeonfishes on Indo-Pacific coral reefs. Yet, the functional role of these species has been the focus of an ongoing debate lasting at least six decades. Specifically, to what extent are C. striatus herbivorous like the visually similar A. nigrofuscus? To address this question, we used natural feeding surfaces, covered with late successional stage reef-grown algal turfs, to examine turf algal removal by the two species. Surfaces exposed to C. striatus in laboratory experiments exhibited no significant reductions in turf length or area covered by turfing algae. In marked contrast, A. nigrofuscus reduced turf length by 51% and area covered by turfing algae by 15% in 1 h. The gut contents of specimens from the reef revealed that A. nigrofuscus predominantly ingests algae (the dominant item in 79.6–94.7% of gut content quadrats), while C. striatus ingests detritus and sediments (dominant in 99.6–100% of quadrats). Therefore, C. striatus ingests detritus and sediment, leaving mature algal turfs relatively intact, while A. nigrofuscus directly removes and ingests turf algae. The function of C. striatus differs from cropping herbivorous surgeonfishes such as A. nigrofuscus. On coral reefs, C. striatus brush detrital aggregates from algal turfs, removing microorganisms, organic detritus and inorganic sediment. Confusion over the functional role of C. striatus may stem from an inability to fit it into a single functional category.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Coral Reefs, 36(3), p. 803-813
Publisher: Springer
Place of Publication: Germany
ISSN: 0722-4028
Field of Research (FOR): 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl. Marine Ichthyology)
060604 Comparative Physiology
Socio-Economic Outcome Codes: 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
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Appears in Collections:Journal Article
School of Environmental and Rural Science

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