Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 82, Issue 1, pp 59–70 | Cite as

Selection of diurnal refuges by the nocturnal squirrelfish, Holocentrus rufus

  • Alexandre Ménard
  • Katrine Turgeon
  • Donald L. Kramer
Original Paper


We examined the diurnal refuges occupied by the nocturnal squirrelfish, Holocentrus rufus, to describe refuges and the behavior associated with their use and to determine which, if any, refuge characteristics were selected. We tagged 21 H. rufus on two sites on a fringing reef in Barbados, West Indies, identified the refuges they used (n = 57), measured ten characteristics of each refuge and the surrounding microhabitat, and monitored their refuge use for 4 weeks. To evaluate refuge selection, we measured the same characteristics on a comparable number of unused potential refuges (n = 67) on the same reefs and used classification tree models to determine which characteristics separated used from unused refuges. Each fish used 1–9 refuges, which did not overlap among individuals and were defended against intrusion by conspecifics and some heterospecifics. Fish with more than one refuge frequently moved among them. There was strong site fidelity with no immigration of untagged fish or emigration of tagged fish on either reef during the study period and no additional refuges being occupied over the 4-week period. Refuges were primarily holes, open at one or two ends, which varied in size, distance from the reef edge, entrance orientation, and vertical relief at the entrance. Holes used as refuges differed significantly from unused holes mainly in characteristics related to the vertical position of their entrance, but the classification tree models differed for the two sites. This study provides the first detailed information on characteristics of daytime refuges used by a nocturnally active reef fish and the first evidence of selectivity of refuges. It suggests that the abundance and characteristics of holes on reefs could influence the density of H. rufus on natural reefs.


Caribbean Coral reef fish Habitat selection Holocentridae Microhabitat Shelter 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexandre Ménard
    • 1
  • Katrine Turgeon
    • 1
  • Donald L. Kramer
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada

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