Advertisement

Coral Reefs

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 245–252 | Cite as

Competition for shelter in a high-diversity system: structure use by large reef fishes

  • J. T. Kerry
  • D. R. Bellwood
Report

Abstract

Competition among large reef fishes for shelter beneath tabular structures provides a rare opportunity to study competition in a species-rich environment. The system permits a detailed study of localised competition with major implications for coral reefs with respect to human impacts including climate change. Using underwater video cameras, this study examined competition among 30 species of large reef fishes (from nine families) for access to shelter provided by 26 tabular structures, which may be the highest reported diversity of vertebrates competing for a single resource. Mean concentrations of fishes under tabular structures were also among the highest biomass recorded on reefs (4.71 kg m−2). A generated dominance hierarchy for the occupation of shelter appeared to be primarily driven by the size of fishes. In contrast to previous studies, fishes higher in the hierarchy tended to exhibit the lowest levels of aggression. However, size difference between fishes was found to be strongly negatively correlated with the proportion of aggressive interactions (R 2 = 0.971, P < 0.0001). The strong competition for the shade provided by these corals highlights concerns about future shifts in the structure of large reef fish communities as corals are lost. This is particularly concerning given the critical functional roles played by certain species of large reef fishes that utilise tabular structure for shelter and which occupy the lower ranks of the dominance hierarchy.

Keywords

Biodiversity Climate change Dominance hierarchy Keystone species UV irradiance 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This study was conducted on Jiigurru in the traditional sea country of the Dingaal people. Thanks to L. Grutter and N. J. Marshall for helpful discussions, E. McClure for assistance in the field, and the staff of Lizard Island Research Station (a facility of the Australian Museum) for support and facilities. Funding for the project was provided by the Australian Research Council (to DRB) and a James Cook University GRS Grant (to JTK). Research was conducted under GBRMPA permit #G11/33857.1.

References

  1. Ackerman JL, Bellwood DR (2000) Reef fish assemblages: a re-evaluation using enclosed rotenone stations. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 206:227–237CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Almany GR (2004) Does increased habitat complexity reduce predation and competition in coral reef fish assemblages? Oikos 106:275–284CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Appeldoorn R, Aguilar-Perera A, Bouwmeester B, Dennis G, Hill R, Merten W, Recksiek C, Williams S (2009) Movement of fishes (Grunts: Haemulidae) across the coral reef seascape: a review of scales, patterns and processes. Caribb J Sci 45:304–316CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Beacham JL, Newman JA (1987) Social experience and the formation of dominance relationships in the pumpkinseed sunfish, Lepomis gibbosus. Anim Behav 35:1560–1563CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bellwood DR, Hughes TP, Hoey AS (2006) Sleeping functional group drives coral-reef recovery. Curr Biol 16:2434–2439CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Boström-Einarsson L, Bonin MC, Munday PL, Jones GP (2014) Habitat degradation modifies the strength of interspecific competition in coral dwelling damselfishes. Ecology 95:3056–3067CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Davey AJH, Doncaster CP, Jones OD (2009) Distinguishing between interference and exploitation competition for shelter in a mobile fish population. Environ Model Assess 14:555–562CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Depczynski M, Bellwood DR (2006) Extremes, plasticity, and invariance in vertebrate life history traits: insights from coral reef fishes. Ecology 87:3119–3127CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Dickens LC, Goatley CHR, Tanner JK, Bellwood DR (2011) Quantifying relative diver effects in underwater visual censuses. PLoS One 6:e18965PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Eckardt W, Zuberbühler K (2004) Cooperation and competition in two forest monkeys. Behav Ecol 15:400–411CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Fabricius KE, Langdon C, Uthicke S, Humphrey C, Noonan S, De’ath G, Okazaki R, Muehllehner N, Glas MS, Lough JM (2011) Losers and winners in coral reefs acclimatized to elevated carbon dioxide concentrations. Nat Clim Chang 1:165–169CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Fero K, Simon JL, Jourdie V, Moore PA (2007) Consequences of social dominance on crayfish resource use. Behaviour 144:61–82CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Forrester G, Evans B, Steele M, Vance R (2006) Assessing the magnitude of intra- and interspecific competition in two coral reef fishes. Oecologia 148:632–640CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Gardner RC, MacDonald PL (2000) Type I error rate comparisons of post hoc procedures for I J Chi square tables. Educ Psychol Meas 60:735–754CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gregory JS, Griffith JS (1996) Aggressive behaviour of underyearling rainbow trout in simulated winter concealment habitat. J Fish Biol 49:237–245CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Griffis MR, Jaeger RG (1998) Competition leads to an extinction-prone species of salamander: interspecific territoriality in a metapopulation. Ecology 79:2494–2502CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Haag EL, Rudman R, Houpt KA (1980) Avoidance, maze learning and social dominance in ponies. J Anim Sci 50:329–335Google Scholar
  18. Harwood AJ, Metcalfe NB, Griffiths SW, Armstrong JD (2002) Intra- and inter-specific competition for winter concealment habitat in juvenile salmonids. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 59:1515–1523CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hauser MD, Tyrrell G (1984) Old age and its behavioral manifestations: a study on two species of macaque. Folia Primatol (Basel) 43:24–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Heinsohn R, Murphy S, Legge S (2003) Overlap and competition for nest holes among eclectus parrots, palm cockatoos and sulphur-crested cockatoos. Aust J Zool 51:81–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hixon MA, Jones GP (2005) Competition, predation and density-dependent mortality in demersal marine fishes. Ecology 86:2847–2859CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hobbs JP, Munday PL (2004) Intraspecific competition controls spatial distribution and social organisation of the coral-dwelling goby Gobiodon histrio. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 278:253–259CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hoey AS, Bellwood DR (2009) Limited functional redundancy in a high diversity system: single species dominates key ecological process on coral reefs. Ecosystems 12:1316–1328CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Holbrook SJ, Schmitt RJ (2002) Competition for shelter space causes density dependent predation mortality in damselfishes. Ecology 83:2855–2868CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kerry JT, Bellwood DR (2014) Do tabular corals constitute keystone structures for fishes on coral reefs? Coral Reefs 34:41–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kerry JT, Bellwood DR (2015) The functional role of tabular structures for large reef fishes: avoiding predators or solar irradiance? Coral Reefs 34:693–702CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Mac Nally R, Timewell CAR (2005) Resource availability controls bird-assemblage composition through interspecific aggression. Auk 122:1097–1111CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Madin JS, Baird AH, Dornelas M, Connolly SR (2014) Mechanical vulnerability explains size-dependent mortality of reef corals. Ecol Lett 17:1008–1015PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Marshall PA, Baird AH (2000) Bleaching of corals on the Great Barrier Reef: different susceptibilities among taxa. Coral Reefs 19:155–163CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. McDonald AL, Heimstra NW, Damkot DK (1968) Social modification of agonistic behaviour in fish. Anim Behav 16:437–441CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Mora C, Aburto-Oropeza O, Ayala Bocos A, Ayotte PM, Banks S, Bauman AG, Beger M, Bessudo S, Booth DJ, Brokovich E, Brooks A, Chabanet P, Cinner JE, Cortés J, Cruz-Motta JJ, Cupul Magaña A, DeMartini EE, Edgar GJ, Feary DA, Ferse SCA, Friedlander AM, Gaston KJ, Gough C, Graham NAJ, Green A, Guzman H, Hardt M, Kulbicki M, Letourneur Y, López Pérez A, Loreau M, Loya Y, Martinez C, Mascareñas-Osorio I, Morove T, Nadon M-O, Nakamura Y, Paredes G, Polunin NVC, Pratchett MS, Reyes Bonilla H, Rivera F, Sala E, Sandin SA, Soler G, Stuart-Smith R, Tessier E, Tittensor DP, Tupper M, Usseglio P, Vigliola L, Wantiez L, Williams I, Wilson SK, Zapata FA (2011) Global human footprint on the linkage between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in reef fishes. PLoS Biol 9:e1000606PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Nanami A, Yamada H (2008) Foraging rates and substratum selection in foraging activity of checkered snapper Lutjanus decussatus (Lutjanidae) in an Okinawan coral reef. J Fish Biol 73:1484–1488CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Nanami A, Yamada H (2009) Site fidelity, size, and spatial arrangement of daytime home range of thumbprint emperor Lethrinus harak (Lethrinidae). Fish Sci 75:1109–1116CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Nash K, Welsh J, Graham NJ, Bellwood D (2015) Home-range allometry in coral reef fishes: comparison to other vertebrates, methodological issues and management implications. Oecologia 177:73–83CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Orpwood JE, Griffiths SW, Armstrong JD (2003) Effects of body size on sympatric shelter use in over-wintering juvenile salmonids. J Fish Biol 63:166–173CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Peck SB, Forsyth A (1982) Composition, structure, and competitive behaviour in a guild of Ecuadorian rain forest dung beetles (Coleoptera; Scarabaeidae). Can J Zool 60:1624–1634CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Polis GA, McCormick SJ (1987) Intraguild predation and competition among desert scorpions. Ecology 68:332–343CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Pratchett MS, Munday PL, Wilson SK, Graham NAJ, Cinner JE, Bellwood DR, Jones GP, Polunin NVC, McClanahan TR (2008) Effects of climate-induced coral bleaching on coral-reef fishes—ecological and economic consequences. Oceanogr Mar Bio Annu Rev 46:251–296Google Scholar
  39. Robertson DR (1996) Interspecific competition controls abundance and habitat use of territorial Caribbean damselfishes. Ecology 77:885CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Robinson JG (1981) Spatial structure in foraging groups of wedge-capped capuchin monkeys Cebus nigrivittatus. Anim Behav 29:1036–1056CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Robinson SK, Terborgh J (1995) Interspecific aggression and habitat selection by Amazonian birds. J Anim Ecol 64:1–11CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Rutberg AT, Greenberg SA (1990) Dominance, aggression frequencies and modes of aggressive competition in feral pony mares. Anim Behav 40:322–331CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Shulman M (1985) Coral reef fish assemblages: intra- and interspecific competition for shelter sites. Env Biol Fish 13:81–92CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Sweet M, Kirkham N, Bendall M, Currey L, Bythell J, Heupel M (2012) Evidence of melanoma in wild marine fish populations. PLoS One 7:e41989PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. Thouless CR, Guinness FE (1986) Conflict between red deer hinds: the winner always wins. Anim Behav 34:1166–1171CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Vorburger C, Ribi G (1999) Aggression and competition for shelter between a native and an introduced crayfish in Europe. Freshw Biol 42:111–119CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Welsh JQ, Bellwood DR (2012) Spatial ecology of the steephead parrotfish (Chlorurus microrhinos): an evaluation using acoustic telemetry. Coral Reefs 31:55–65CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Zamzow JP, Siebeck UE, Eckes MJ, Grutter AS (2013) Ultraviolet-B wavelengths regulate changes in UV absorption of cleaner fish Labroides dimidiatus mucus. PLoS One 8:e78527PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, and College of Marine and Environmental SciencesJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia

Personalised recommendations