Coral Reefs

, Volume 35, Issue 4, pp 1173–1185 | Cite as

Variation in the population demographics of Scolopsis bilineatus in response to predators

  • A. E. Hall
  • M. J. Kingsford


Predatory fishes play critical roles in the trophodynamics of coral reefs, and the biomass of predatory fish can be a strong determinant of the structure of reef fish assemblages. In this study, we used variations in predator biomass between management zones on the Great Barrier Reef to examine how predators influence the biomass, mortality, condition, and reproductive potential of a common prey species Scolopsis bilineatus (bridled monocle bream; Nemipteridae). Despite no numerical differences in biomass or mortality, we found significant differences in a variety of demographic traits for S. bilineatus between multiple areas of high and low predator biomass. The size-at-age, condition, and reproductive potential of fish were reduced in marine reserves where predator biomass was high. The response of fish to predators was highly sex dependent; females suffered the greatest reductions in condition and reproductive potential. This study supports the notion that predators can play important roles in regulating prey dynamics and emphasises the importance of understanding top-down control by predators when considering fisheries management techniques and conservation strategies.


Predator–prey interactions Demography Fishing impacts Trophodynamics Scolopsis bilineatus Marine reserves 



The authors would like to thank David Hall and Mark O’Callaghan for assistance with field and laboratory work, as well as the managers of Orpheus Island Research Station for logistical support. Funding was provided to MJK by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and a grant to April Hall from the Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland. This is a contribution from the Reef and Ocean Ecology Laboratory, James Cook University.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Science and Engineering and Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef StudiesJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia

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