New records of corallivory in the Red Sea
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KeywordsEcological Impact Coral Tissue Fish Abundance Live Coral Actual Coral
With over 160 consumers of live coral reported, corallivory is gaining recognition as a feeding mode on tropical reefs (Cole et al. 2008; Rotjan and Lewis 2008). However, the description of corallivores suffers from a lack of attention, and thus it is likely that our ecological, taxonomic, and geographic understanding of corallivory has been underestimated.
Here, we present two fishes previously undocumented in the scientific literature to feed on corals. One, Arothron diadematus, is a congener of known corallivores (e.g., Jayewardene and Birkeland 2006), while the other, Psuedocheilinus hexataenia, is from a genus not previously reported to consume live corals. We observed both species feeding on corals in situ on reefs in the Saudi Arabian Red Sea. This region is poorly represented in the literature, but hosts a diversity of known corallivorous species.
Surveys of corallivorous fish abundances revealed a relatively low density of A. diadematus (0.75 fish per 500 m2) although individuals were observed at 11 of 20 sites. This is in contrast to P. hexataenia that was seen at all 20 sites and was among the most abundant corallivores on the reefs (11.4 per 500 m2). The total ecological impact of the grazing activity of these fishes on corals warrants further investigation.
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