Coral Reefs

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 603–613 | Cite as

Influence of depth on sex-specific energy allocation patterns in a tropical reef fish



The effect of depth on the distribution and sex-specific energy allocation patterns of a common coral reef fish, Chrysiptera rollandi (Pomacentridae), was investigated using depth-stratified collections over a broad depth range (5–39 m) and a translocation experiment. C. rollandi consistently selected rubble habitats at each depth, however abundance patterns did not reflect the availability of the preferred microhabitat suggesting a preference for depth as well as microhabitat. Reproductive investment (gonado-somatic index), energy stores (liver cell density and hepatocyte vacuolation), and overall body condition (hepato-somatic index and Fulton’s K) of female fish varied significantly among depths and among the three reefs sampled. Male conspecifics displayed no variation between depth or reef. Depth influenced growth dynamics, with faster initial growth rates and smaller mean asymptotic lengths with decreasing depth. In female fish, relative gonad weight and overall body condition (Fulton’s K and hepato-somatic index) were generally higher in shallower depths (≤10 m). Hepatic lipid storage was highest at the deepest sites sampled on each reef, whereas hepatic glycogen stores tended to decrease with depth. Depth was found to influence energy allocation dynamics in C. rollandi. While it is unclear what processes directly influenced the depth-related patterns in energy allocation, this study shows that individuals across a broad depth gradient are not all in the same physiological state and may contribute differentially to the population reproductive output.


Depth effects Body condition Energy allocation Coral reef fish Pomacentridae 



We thank S. Smith for assistance in the field and laboratory, W. Robbins and J. Ackerman for help with growth analyses, and the staff at the Mahonia na Dari research station for logistical support. P. Munday, M. Pratchett, H. Lasker and two anonymous reviewers provided helpful comments on the manuscript. This project was funded through an internal James Cook University grant to MIM.

Supplementary material


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and School of Marine and Tropical BiologyJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia
  2. 2.Great Barrier Reef Marine Park AuthorityTownsvilleAustralia

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