Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 25, Issue 1–3, pp 187–193 | Cite as

Temporal and areal feeding behavior of the butterflyfish,Chaetodon trifascialis, at Johnston Atoll

  • Darby K. Irons


The chevron butterflyfish,Chaetodon trifascialis, is found throughout the Indo-Pacific. It is a territorial, diurnal, corallivore found in close association withAcropora spp. corals. The feeding behavior of 33 individuals was studied over six seasons in three habitats.Chaetodon trifascialis spent one third of its active time feeding. However, there was much individual variation. Fish had significantly higher feeding rates during the early afternoon, and there were no significant differences in the feeding rates between the seasons. Feeding rates were significantly different between the three habitats. TheMontipora-rich habitat had the highest feeding rates (x = 10.74 bites min-1 ± 0.87, all corals combined) and theAcropora-Montipora mixed habitat had the lowest feeding rates (x = 4.58 bites min-1 ± 0.63, all corals combined). Females fed significantly more than males. WhileC. trifascialis had been thought to only eatAcropora spp. corals, it occasionally fed onMontipora spp. andPocillopora sp. corals whenAcropora spp. were scarce.Chaetodon trifascialis exhibited patterns predicted by foraging theory of an energy maximizer. Territory sizes were inversely related to food density and feeding rates were inversely related to intruder rates. This is a promising system for future testing of foraging strategy models.

Key words

Foraging Ethology Ecology Chaetodontid Territorial Corallivore Corals Reef 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Darby K. Irons
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of Hawaii at ManoaHonoluluU.S.A.

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