Marine Biology

, Volume 158, Issue 7, pp 1483–1495 | Cite as

Scale-dependent patterns of variability of a grazing parrotfish (Leptoscarus vaigiensis) in a tropical seagrass-dominated seascape

  • Martin GullströmEmail author
  • Charlotte Berkström
  • Marcus C. Öhman
  • Maria Bodin
  • Mattis Dahlberg
Original Paper


Although herbivorous fish form critical linkages between primary producers and higher trophic levels, the major factors regulating their spatial structure in seagrass systems remain poorly understood. The present study examined the parrotfish Leptoscarus vaigiensis in seagrass meadows of a tropical embayment in the western Indian Ocean. Stomach content analysis and direct field observations showed that L. vaigiensis is an efficient grazer, feeding almost exclusively on seagrass leaves. Seagrass shoot density was highly correlated to all density variables (total, juvenile and subadult) and juvenile biomass of L. vaigiensis, while subadult biomass was predicted by distance to neighbouring coral habitat. Moreover, density and biomass of predatory fish (piscivores) were predicted by seagrass canopy height and the distribution patterns of predators followed those of L. vaigiensis. Hence, factors at local (seagrass structural complexity and feeding mode) and landscape scale levels (seascape context and distribution of piscivores) likely mutually structure herbivorous fish communities. The findings underscore the importance of incorporating multiple scale-dependent factors when managing coastal seagrass ecosystems and their associated key species.


Canopy Height Potential Predator Seagrass Meadow Herbivorous Fish Shoot Density 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We wish to thank Mcha Manzi for assistance throughout all field periods, and Mohammed Nur Mohammed, Saleh Yahya, Lisa Adelsköld, Maria Asplund, Maricela de la Torre Castro and Johan Eklöf for assistance during part of the field work. We are also grateful to Kristina Halling, Nils Kautsky, Jerker Lokrantz, and Per Nilsson for useful comments on earlier versions of the manuscript. Furthermore, thanks to Mats Lindegarth for statistical advice as well as Mats Björk for helping with identification of epiphytes. The Institute of Marine Sciences (University of Dar es Salaam) at Zanzibar provided research facilities and we appreciate the support given by Narriman Jiddawi. The study was supported by the Swedish International Development cooperation Agency (Sida) through the Sida/SAREC Bilateral Marine Science Programme between Sweden and Tanzania as well as the Sida/SAREC-funded project ‘Changes in tropical seagrass beds induced by eutrophication’.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Gullström
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Charlotte Berkström
    • 1
  • Marcus C. Öhman
    • 2
  • Maria Bodin
    • 4
  • Mattis Dahlberg
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Systems EcologyStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden
  2. 2.Department of ZoologyStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden
  3. 3.Department of Marine Ecology - KristinebergUniversity of GothenburgFiskebäckskilSweden
  4. 4.Department of Marine Ecology - TjärnöUniversity of GothenburgStrömstadSweden

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