Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://hdl.handle.net/1959.11/27051
Title: The Role of Turtles as Coral Reef Macroherbivores
Contributor(s): Goatley, Christopher H R  (author)orcid ; Hoey, Andrew S (author); Bellwood, David R (author)
Publication Date: 2012-06-29
Open Access: Yes
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0039979
Handle Link: https://hdl.handle.net/1959.11/27051
Abstract: Herbivory is widely accepted as a vital function on coral reefs. To date, the majority of studies examining herbivory in coral reef environments have focused on the roles of fishes and/or urchins, with relatively few studies considering the potential role of macroherbivores in reef processes. Here, we introduce evidence that highlights the potential role of marine turtles as herbivores on coral reefs. While conducting experimental habitat manipulations to assess the roles of herbivorous reef fishes we observed green turtles (Chelonia mydas) and hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) showing responses that were remarkably similar to those of herbivorous fishes. Reducing the sediment load of the epilithic algal matrix on a coral reef resulted in a forty-fold increase in grazing by green turtles. Hawksbill turtles were also observed to browse transplanted thalli of the macroalga Sargassum swartzii in a coral reef environment. These responses not only show strong parallels to herbivorous reef fishes, but also highlight that marine turtles actively, and intentionally, remove algae from coral reefs. When considering the size and potential historical abundance of marine turtles we suggest that these potentially valuable herbivores may have been lost from many coral reefs before their true importance was understood.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Grant Details: ARC/CE0561435
Source of Publication: PloS One, 7(6), p. 1-7
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Place of Publication: United States of America
ISSN: 1932-6203
Field of Research (FOR): 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl. Marine Ichthyology)
050102 Ecosystem Function
Socio-Economic Outcome Codes: 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
Appears in Collections:Journal Article
School of Environmental and Rural Science

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