, Volume 177, Issue 1, pp 73–83 | Cite as

Home-range allometry in coral reef fishes: comparison to other vertebrates, methodological issues and management implications

  • Kirsty L. Nash
  • Justin Q. Welsh
  • Nicholas A. J. Graham
  • David R. Bellwood
Concepts, Reviews and Syntheses


Body size has been identified as a key driver of home-range area. Despite considerable research into home-range allometry, the relatively high variability in this relationship among taxa means that the mechanisms driving this relationship are still under debate. To date, studies have predominantly focused on terrestrial taxa, and coral reef fishes in particular have received little attention. We quantitatively reviewed studies examining home range in reef fishes, and assessed the interspecific relationship between body mass and home-range area. Body mass and home range are positively related in reef fishes (slopes of 1.15–1.72), with predators having larger home ranges than herbivorous species. This may be attributed to the mobility and lower abundance of predators’ food items. Coral reef fishes, and fishes in general, appear to occupy a smaller area per unit mass than terrestrial vertebrates (intercepts of −0.92 to 0.07 versus ≥1.14). This is likely linked to the relative metabolic costs of moving through water compared to air. The small home ranges of reef fishes and their apparent reluctance to cross open areas suggest that reserves aimed at protecting fish species may be more effective if located across whole reefs, even if those reefs are comparatively small, rather than if they cover subsections of contiguous reef, as home ranges in the former are less likely to cross reserve boundaries.


Movement Spatial ecology Mammals Birds Lizards 



This study was funded by the Australian Research Council. We thank three anonymous reviewers for their detailed comments which significantly improved the manuscript.

Supplementary material

442_2014_3152_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (25 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 24 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kirsty L. Nash
    • 1
  • Justin Q. Welsh
    • 1
    • 2
  • Nicholas A. J. Graham
    • 1
  • David R. Bellwood
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef StudiesJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia
  2. 2.School of Marine and Tropical BiologyJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia

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