Article

Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 53, Issue 4, pp 393-404

First online:

Effects of substrata, resident conspecifics and damselfish on the settlement and recruitment of the stoplight parrotfish, Sparisoma viride

  • Nicholas TolimieriAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, University of Windsor

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Abstract

Recruitment plays an important role in the population dynamics of marine organisms and is often quantified as a surrogate for settlement. When quantified, recruitment includes settlement plus a period of time in the benthic habitat. Therefore, it is essential to determine whether post-settlement processes alter patterns established at settlement. I conducted a series of experiments on 2.0 m2 patch reefs to examine the importance of pre- and post-settlement processes to the distribution and abundance of recruits of the stoplight parrotfish, Sparisoma viride, on the Tague Bay reef, St. Croix, USVI. Recruitment was higher to the coral Porites porites than to another common coral Montastrea annularis, but there was no evidence of microhabitat choice at settlement. This result, in conjunction with the examination of the size classes of recruits present on P. porites and M. annularis patch reefs in a separate experiment suggested that differences in recruitment were established after settlement. Stoplights settled in higher numbers to patch reefs that contained conspecific residents, and persistence was higher at higher recruit density. Although resident damselfish directed significant amounts of agonistic behavior towards newly stoplight recruits, damselfish presence had no effect on settlement. However, damselfish presence did reduce stoplight recruitment. These results demonstrate that both pre- and post-settlement processes influence the recruitment of stoplight parrotfish. More importantly, these results indicate that benthic processes can alter recruitment patterns from initial settlement patterns, and indicate that workers should be careful in using recruitment as a proxy for settlement.

pre-settlement post-settlement Caribbean microhabitat coral reef fish