Advertisement

Marine Biology

, Volume 148, Issue 2, pp 373–382 | Cite as

Dietary overlap among coral-feeding butterflyfishes (Chaetodontidae) at Lizard Island, northern Great Barrier Reef

  • Morgan S. Pratchett
Research Article

Abstract

This study documented the range of corals, and other prey types, consumed by 20 species of butterflyfishes, which co-occur at Lizard Island, northern Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Six species (Chaetodon aureofasciatus, C. baronessa, C. lunulatus, C. plebius, C. rainfordi and C. trifascialis) fed almost exclusively on scleractinian corals, and a further eight species (C. citrinellus, C. kleinii, C. lunula, C. melannotus, C. rafflesi, C. speculum, C. ulietensis, and C. unimaculatus) took a significant proportion of their bites from corals. The other six species (C. auriga, C. ephippium, C. lineolatus, C. semeion, C. vagabundus, and Chelmon rostratus) rarely consumed coral, but fed on small discrete prey items from non-coral substrates. Coral-feeding butterflyfishes consumed a wide range of corals. Chaetodon lunulatus, for example, consumed 51 coral species from 24 different genera. However, there was up to 72% dietary overlap between coral-feeding butterflyfishes, with 11/14 species feeding predominantly on Acropora hyacinthus or Pocillopora damicornis. The most specialised corallivore, C. trifascialis, took 88% of bites from A. hyacinthus. Chaetodon trifascialis defend territories encompassing one or more colonies of A. hyacinthus, and may have prevented other species such as C. lunulatus from feeding even more extensively on this coral. This study has shown that coexistence of coral-feeding butterflyfishes occurs despite an apparent lack of partitioning of prey resources. While different coral-feeding butterflyfishes were more or less selective in their use of different coral prey, virtually all species fed predominantly on A. hyacinthus or P. damicornis.

Keywords

Reef Fish Great Barrier Reef Prey Type Scleractinian Coral Coral Reef Fish 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgements

This research was funded by a Merit Research Grant from James Cook University. Field assistance was provided by A.H. Baird, R. Thomas, and S.L. Watson. Comments by A.H. Baird, M.L. Berumen, T.P. Hughes, G.P. Jones, M.I. McCormick and P.L. Munday greatly improved this manuscript. This is contribution number 150 from the Centre for Coral Reef Biodiversity at James Cook University. This research was authorised by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and complies with Australian law.

Supplementary material

227_2005_84_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (439 kb)
Supplementary material

References

  1. Allen GR, Steene R, Allen M (1998) A guide to angelfishes and butterflyfishes. Odussey Publishing/Tropical Reef Research, PerthGoogle Scholar
  2. Alwany M, Thaler E, Stachowitsch M (2003) Food selection in two corallivorous butterflyfishes, Chaetodon austriacus and C. trifascialis, in the northern Red Sea. Mar Ecol 24:165–177CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Anderson GRV, Ehrlich AH, Ehrlich PR, Roughgarden JD, Russell BC, Talbot FH (1981) The community structure of coral reef fishes. Am Nat 117:476–495CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Berumen ML, Pratchett MS, McCormick MI (2005) Within reef variation in the diet and condition of two coral feeding butterflyfish (Pices: Chaetodontidae). Mar Ecol Prog Ser 287:217–227CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Berumen ML, Pratchett MS (2005) Effects of resource availability on the competitive behaviour of butterflyfishes. Proc 10th Int Coral Reef Symp (in press)Google Scholar
  6. Bouchon-Navaro Y (1986) Partitioning of food and space resources by chaetodontid fishes on coral reefs. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 103:21–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Clarke RD (1994) Habitat partitioning by Chaenopsid blennies in Belize and the Virgin Islands. Copeia 2:398–405CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Connell JH (1983) On the prevalence and relative importance of interspecific competition: evidence from field experiments. Am Nat 122:661–696CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cox E (1994) Resource use by corallivorous butterflyfishes (Family Chaetodontidae) in Hawaii. Bull Mar Sci 54:535–545Google Scholar
  10. Ebeling AW, Laur DR (1986) Foraging in serfperches: resource partitioning or individualistic responses? Env Biol Fishes 16:123–133CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Harmelin-Vivien ML, Bouchon-Navaro Y (1983) Feeding diets and significance of coral feeding among Chaetodontid fishes in Moorea (French Polynesia). Coral Reefs 2:119–127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hourigan TF, Tricas TC, Reese ES (1988) Coral reef fishes as indicators of environmental stress in coral reefs. In: Soule DF, Kleppel GS (eds) Marine organisms as indicators. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York, pp 107–135CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hutchinson GE (1959) Homage to Santa Rosalia or why there are so many species? Am Nat 93:145–159CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Irons DK (1989) Temporal and areal feeding behaviour of the butterflyfish, Chaetodon trifascialis, at Johnston Atoll. Env Biol Fishes 25:187–193CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Krebs CJ (1998) Ecological methodology. Addison Wesley Longman, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  16. Motta PJ (1988) Functional morphology of the feeding apparatus of ten species of Pacific butterflyfishes (Perciformes, Chaetodontidae): an ecomorphological approach. Env Biol Fishes 22(1):39–67CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Munday PL, Jones GP (1998) The ecological implications of small body size among coral-reef fishes. Oceanogr Mar Biol 36:373–411Google Scholar
  18. Munday PL (2001) Interspecific competition and coexistence in a guild of coral-dwelling fishes. Ecology 82(8):2177–2189CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Pratchett MS, Wilson SP, Berumen ML, McCormick MI (2004) Sub-lethal effects of coral bleaching on an obligate coral-feeding butterflyfish. Coral Reefs 23:352–356CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Reese ES (1975) A comparative field study of the social behaviour and related ecology of reef fishes of the family Chaetodontidae. Z Tierpsychol 37:37–61CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Reese ES (1981) Predation on corals by fishes of the family Chaetodontidae: implications for conservation and management of coral reef ecosystems. Bull Mar Sci 31:594–604Google Scholar
  22. Ross ST (1986) Resource partitioning in fish assemblages: a review of field studies. Copeia 1986:352–388CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Sale PF (1978) Coexistence of coral reef fishes—a lottery for living space. Env Biol Fish 3:85–102CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Sale PF, Williams DMcB (1982) Community structure of coral reef fishes: are the patterns more than those expected by chance? Am Nat 120:121–127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Sano M (1989) Feeding habits of Japanese butterflyfishes (Chaetodontidae). Env Biol Fish 25:195–203CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Schoener TW (1974) Resource partitioning in ecological communities. Science 185:27–39CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Wrathall TJ, Roberts CM, Ormond RFG (1992) Territoriality in the butterflyfish Chaetodon austriacus. Env Biol Fishes 34:305–308CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Zekeria ZA, Dawit Y, Ghebremedhin S, Naser M, Videler JJ (2002) Resource partitioning among four butterflyfish species in the Red Sea. Mar Freshwater Res 53:163–168CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Coral Reef Biodiversity, School of Marine Biology and AquacultureJames Cook University of North QueenslandTownsvilleAustralia

Personalised recommendations