Effects of alternate reef states on coral reef fish habitat associations
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- Lecchini, D., Carassou, L., Frédérich, B. et al. Environ Biol Fish (2012) 94: 421. doi:10.1007/s10641-011-9958-0
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The present study describes ontogenetic shifts in habitat use for 15 species of coral reef fish at Rangiroa Atoll, French Polynesia. The distribution of fish in different habitats at three ontogenetic stages (new settler, juvenile, and adult) was investigated in coral-dominated and algal-dominated sites at two reefs (fringing reef and inner reef of motu). Three main ontogenetic patterns in habitat use were identified: (1) species that did not change habitats between new settler and juvenile life stages (60% of species) or between juvenile and adult stages (55% of species—no ontogenetic shift); (2) species that changed habitats at different ontogenetic stages (for the transition “new settler to juvenile stage”: 15% of species; for the transition “juvenile to adult stage”: 20% of species); and (3) species that increased the number of habitats they used over ontogeny (for the transition “new settler to juvenile stage”: 25% of species; for the transition “juvenile to adult stage”: 25% of species). Moreover, the majority of studied species (53%) showed a spatial variability in their ontogenetic pattern of habitat use according to alternate reef states (coral reef vs algal reef), suggesting that reef state can influence the dynamics of habitat associations in coral reef fish.