The relative influence of abundance and priority effects on colonization success in a coral-reef fish
The sequence of species colonization is increasingly recognized as an important determinant of community structure, yet the significance of sequence of arrival relative to colonizer abundance is seldom assessed. We manipulated the magnitude and timing of coral-reef fish settlement to investigate whether the competitive dominance of early-arriving Ambon damselfish (i.e., a priority effect) decreased in strength with increasing abundance of late-arriving lemon damselfish. Sequence of arrival had a stronger effect on survival than the number of competing individuals. Relative to when both species arrived simultaneously, lemon damselfish were less aggressive, avoided competitive interactions more frequently and experienced depressed survival when they arrived later than Ambon damselfish, with these effects occurring independently of lemon damselfish abundance. These results suggest priority effects are more important than colonizer abundance and should motivate the integration of priority effects into future studies of density dependence to determine their relative importance.
KeywordsCompetition Coral-reef fish Damselfish Density dependence Pomacentrus Settlement
- Cox DR (1972) Regression models and life-tables. J R Stat Soc Series B Stat Methodol 34:187–220Google Scholar
- Holbrook SJ, Schmitt RJ (1997) Settlement patterns and processes in a coral reef damselfish: in situ nocturnal observations using infrared video. Proc 8th Int Coral Reef Symp 2:1143–1148Google Scholar
- Development Core Team R (2013) R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, AustriaGoogle Scholar