, Volume 157, Issue 6, pp 1313-1323
Date: 05 Mar 2010

Bioerosion of coral reefs by two Hawaiian parrotfishes: species, size differences and fishery implications

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Abstract

Parrotfishes can be significant bioeroders and sediment producers on coral reefs. We quantified the bioerosion rates of two similarly sized Hawaiian parrotfishes with two different feeding modes (Scarus rubroviolaceus—a scraper and Chlorurus perspicillatus—an excavator). The results showed that feeding modes did not affect bioerosion rates but that bioerosion rates were size dependent, with largest individuals (S. rubroviolaceus 45–54 cm FL) bioeroding up to 380 ± 67 kg ind−1 year−1. The size for onset of bioerosion capabilities for both species was 15 cm. Grazing by the two species consumed 60% of the carbonate production of the fore reef area, suggesting that large parrotfishes in Hawaii are ecologically important bioeroders. As individual large S. rubroviolaceus contributed disproportionately more to bioerosion and sediment production than the equivalent biomass of smaller conspecifics, management strategies designed to retain normal reef bioerosion rates should seek to preserve the historical size structure of S. rubroviolaceus populations and to especially protect the larger size classes.

Communicated by D. Goulet.