, Volume 63, Issue 1, pp 79-86

Quantitative distribution of herbivorous reef fishes in the Gulf of Aqaba (Red Sea)

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Abstract

The distribution of the main herbivorous fishes (Acanthuridae, Scaridae, Siganidae) was studied across a coral reef of the Jordanian coast in the Gulf of Aqaba (Red Sea). Visual counts were realized by diving along transects (200 m long and 5 m wide), parallel to the shore, at 10 stations located from the lagoon to 40 m deep on the outer reef slope. Herbivorous reef fishes reach their highest abundance on the reef front, where 234 fishes were counted per 1,000 m2. Their density decreases on the reef flat, with an average of 150 fish 1,000 m-2, and is lowest on the outer reef slope (69 fish 1,000 m-2). Surgeonfishes form 63% of the herbivorous ichthyofauna, parrotfishes 35%, and rabbitfishes 2%. Families and species display different distributions according to biota. The Acanthuridae dominate on the reef flat, whereas the Scaridae are more numerous on the outer reef slope. The evolution of the social structure of the main species was observed: the adults generally school in the lagoon and on the reef flat, but are mainly solitary on the reef slope. The distribution of juvenile individuals is more restricted: they are concentrated on the reef front and on the upper part of the reef slope.

This study is part of a cooperation programme between the University of Nice (France) and the University of Jordan, to study the ecology of the coral reefs and the surrounding waters of the Jordanian coast (Gulf of Aqaba, Red Sea)
Communicated by J. M. Pérès, Marseille