Bioerosion of coral reefs by two Hawaiian parrotfishes: species, size differences and fishery implications

Abstract

Parrotfishes can be significant bioeroders and sediment producers on coral reefs. We quantified the bioerosion rates of two similarly sized Hawaiian parrotfishes with two different feeding modes (Scarus rubroviolaceus—a scraper and Chlorurus perspicillatus—an excavator). The results showed that feeding modes did not affect bioerosion rates but that bioerosion rates were size dependent, with largest individuals (S. rubroviolaceus 45–54 cm FL) bioeroding up to 380 ± 67 kg ind−1 year−1. The size for onset of bioerosion capabilities for both species was 15 cm. Grazing by the two species consumed 60% of the carbonate production of the fore reef area, suggesting that large parrotfishes in Hawaii are ecologically important bioeroders. As individual large S. rubroviolaceus contributed disproportionately more to bioerosion and sediment production than the equivalent biomass of smaller conspecifics, management strategies designed to retain normal reef bioerosion rates should seek to preserve the historical size structure of S. rubroviolaceus populations and to especially protect the larger size classes.

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Acknowledgments

This research was in part supported by NSF grant DGE02-32016 to K.Y. Kaneshiro. I would particularly like to thank volunteers S. Rii, J. Norris, D. Graham, members of the Holland lab and staff of the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve for logistical support and field assistance. A. Taylor provided invaluable help with the statistical analyses. The comments of three anonymous reviewers, which substantially improved the draft, is gratefully acknowledged.

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Correspondence to Ling Ong.

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Communicated by D. Goulet.

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Ong, L., Holland, K.N. Bioerosion of coral reefs by two Hawaiian parrotfishes: species, size differences and fishery implications. Mar Biol 157, 1313–1323 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00227-010-1411-y

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Keywords

  • Fork Length
  • Fore Reef
  • Bite Volume
  • Live Coral
  • Turf Alga