Coral Reefs

, Volume 36, Issue 1, pp 151–155

The relative influence of abundance and priority effects on colonization success in a coral-reef fish

  • Shane W. Geange
  • Davina E. Poulos
  • Adrian C. Stier
  • Mark I. McCormick

DOI: 10.1007/s00338-016-1503-3

Cite this article as:
Geange, S.W., Poulos, D.E., Stier, A.C. et al. Coral Reefs (2017) 36: 151. doi:10.1007/s00338-016-1503-3


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.


Competition Coral-reef fish Damselfish Density dependence Pomacentrus Settlement 

Supplementary material

338_2016_1503_MOESM1_ESM.docx (22 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 22 kb)

Funding information

Funder NameGrant NumberFunding Note
Ian Potter Foundation
    Australian Research Council

      Copyright information

      © Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

      Authors and Affiliations

      • Shane W. Geange
        • 1
        • 2
      • Davina E. Poulos
        • 3
      • Adrian C. Stier
        • 4
      • Mark I. McCormick
        • 3
      1. 1.School of Biological SciencesVictoria University of WellingtonWellingtonNew Zealand
      2. 2.Department of ConservationWellingtonNew Zealand
      3. 3.Department of Marine Biology and Aquaculture, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef StudiesJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia
      4. 4.Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine BiologyUniversity of CaliforniaSanta BarbaraUSA

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