Coral Reefs

, Volume 32, Issue 2, pp 389–398 | Cite as

Patterns of recruitment and microhabitat associations for three predatory coral reef fishes on the southern Great Barrier Reef, Australia

  • C. K. C. Wen
  • M. S. PratchettEmail author
  • G. R. Almany
  • G. P. Jones


This study examined recruitment patterns and microhabitat associations for three carnivorous fishes, Plectropomus maculatus, Lutjanus carponotatus and Epinephelus quoyanus, at the Keppel Islands, southern Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Habitat selectivity was highest for recruits that were found mostly with corymbose Acropora, predominantly on patches of live coral located over loose substrates (sand). Adults were more commonly associated with tabular Acropora. The proportion of P. maculatus (72 %) found with live corals was higher than for L. carponotatus (68 %) and E. quoyanus (44 %). Densities of recruits were highly variable among locations, but this was only partly related to availability of preferred microhabitats. Our findings demonstrate that at least some carnivorous reef fishes, especially during early life-history stages, strongly associate with live corals. Such species will be highly sensitive to increasing degradation of coral reef habitats.


Coral reefs Coral trout Habitat use Plectropomus 



This study was conducted in partial fulfilment of a PhD for C. Wen. Research support was provided by MTSRF (the Marine and Tropical Sciences Research Facility), the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, FRDC–DCCEE on behalf of the Australian Government and the Adaptation Research Network for Marine Biodiversity and Resources (NCCARF). Numerous people assisted with fieldwork, especially D. Williamson, R. Evans, H. Harrison, T. Mannering and A. Mechenin. Authors are grateful to H. Sweatman and E. Gladfelter for facilitating this publication.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. K. C. Wen
    • 1
    • 2
  • M. S. Pratchett
    • 2
    Email author
  • G. R. Almany
    • 2
  • G. P. Jones
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Marine and Tropical BiologyJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia
  2. 2.ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef StudiesJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia

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