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Comparisons of Group-Size, Composition and Movement of Herbivorous Reef Fish in Jamaica and Grand Cayman Island

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DOI: 10.4236/ojms.2020.101001    133 Downloads   277 Views

ABSTRACT

The decline in herbivorous fishes is an important contributing factor to the degradation of coral reefs, because their reduction contributes to macro algae overgrowth, which can have harmful effects on corals. Herbivorous fish often form mixed-species groups to locate foraging sites and for defense. The movements and compositions of these groups are dependent on the relative numbers of different species present. Some species, such as the striped parrotfish (Scarus iserti) and ocean surgeonfish (Acanthurus bahianus), serve as core species that lead mixed-species groups. Others, such as the redband (Sparisoma aurofrenatum) and stoplight parrotfishes (Sparisoma viride), follow core species as their associates. Despite the potential importance and abundance of mixed-species groups on reefs, little attention has been given to their composition and movements. Our intent was to determine whether the social dynamics of mixed-species groups in Jamaica were similar to those of Grand Cayman. The overall sizes of mixed-species groups were smaller in Grand Cayman. Focal striped parrotfish in Grand Cayman formed smaller groups, changed composition less, and moved less frequently than in Jamaica. Although probably more abundant than striped parrotfish, the ocean surgeonfish in Grand Cayman did not function as a core species but rather attached themselves as associates to the smaller striped parrotfish groups. Redband parrotfish moved less often in Grand Cayman, and appeared to be more dependent on striped parrotfish groups than stoplight parrotfish. While previous studies on herbivorous reef fish have shown that changes in foraging patterns can change with location, perhaps related to structural heterogeneity and resource distribution, this study illustrates that social interactions between common members of mixed-species groups also change. We suggest that the intra and interspecific social interactions in Grand Cayman are less attuned to finding erratically located high quality resources than those in Jamaica. Other plausible explanations are also considered.

Cite this paper

Al-Shaer, L. , Bloch, A. , Draud, M. , Baumann, B. and Itzkowitz, M. (2020) Comparisons of Group-Size, Composition and Movement of Herbivorous Reef Fish in Jamaica and Grand Cayman Island. Open Journal of Marine Science, 10, 1-15. doi: 10.4236/ojms.2020.101001.

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