Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 53, Issue 4, pp 393–404 | Cite as

Effects of substrata, resident conspecifics and damselfish on the settlement and recruitment of the stoplight parrotfish, Sparisoma viride

  • Nicholas Tolimieri


Recruitment plays an important role in the population dynamics of marine organisms and is often quantified as a surrogate for settlement. When quantified, recruitment includes settlement plus a period of time in the benthic habitat. Therefore, it is essential to determine whether post-settlement processes alter patterns established at settlement. I conducted a series of experiments on 2.0 m2 patch reefs to examine the importance of pre- and post-settlement processes to the distribution and abundance of recruits of the stoplight parrotfish, Sparisoma viride, on the Tague Bay reef, St. Croix, USVI. Recruitment was higher to the coral Porites porites than to another common coral Montastrea annularis, but there was no evidence of microhabitat choice at settlement. This result, in conjunction with the examination of the size classes of recruits present on P. porites and M. annularis patch reefs in a separate experiment suggested that differences in recruitment were established after settlement. Stoplights settled in higher numbers to patch reefs that contained conspecific residents, and persistence was higher at higher recruit density. Although resident damselfish directed significant amounts of agonistic behavior towards newly stoplight recruits, damselfish presence had no effect on settlement. However, damselfish presence did reduce stoplight recruitment. These results demonstrate that both pre- and post-settlement processes influence the recruitment of stoplight parrotfish. More importantly, these results indicate that benthic processes can alter recruitment patterns from initial settlement patterns, and indicate that workers should be careful in using recruitment as a proxy for settlement.

pre-settlement post-settlement Caribbean microhabitat coral reef fish 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References cited

  1. Booth, D.J. 1992. Larval settlement patterns and preferences by domino damselfish Dascyllus albisella Gill. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 155: 85–104.Google Scholar
  2. Booth, D. J. 1995. Juvenile groups in a coral reef damselfish: density-dependent effects on individual fitness and population demography. Ecology 76: 91–106.Google Scholar
  3. Booth, D.J. & G.A. Beretta. 1994. Scasonal recruitment, habitat associations and survival of pomacentrid reef fish in the US Virgin Islands. Coral Reefs 13: 81–89.Google Scholar
  4. Bruggemann, J.H., M.W.M. Kuyper & A.M. Breeman. 1994a. Comparative analysis of foraging and habitat use by the sympatric Caribbcan parrotfish Scarus verula and Sparisoma viride (Scaridae). Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 112:51–66.Google Scholar
  5. Bruggmann, J.H., M.J.H. van Oppen & A.M. Breeman. 1994b. Foraging by the stoplight parrotfish Sparisoma viride. I. Food selection in different, socially determined habitats. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 106: 41–55.Google Scholar
  6. Caley, M.J., M.H. Carr, M.A. Hixon, T.P. Hughes, G.P. Jones & B.A. Menge. 1996. Recruitment and the local dynamics of open marine populations. Ann. Rev. Ecol. Syst. 27: 447–500.Google Scholar
  7. Carr, M.H. & M.A. Hixon. 1995. Predation effects on carly post-settlement survivorship of coral-reef fishes. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 124: 31–42.Google Scholar
  8. Clarke, R.D. 1996. Population shifts in two competing fish species on a degrading coral reef. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 137: 51–58.Google Scholar
  9. Clifton, R.E. 1989. Territory sharing by the Caribbcan striped parrotfish, Scarus iserti: patterns of resource abundance, group size and behavior. Anim. Beh. 37: 90–103.Google Scholar
  10. Clifton, K.E. 1990. The costs and benefits of territory sharing of the Caribbcan coral reef fish, Scarus iserti. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 26: 139–147.Google Scholar
  11. Clifton, K.E. 1991. Subordinate group members act as food-finders within striped parrotfish territories. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 145: 141–148.Google Scholar
  12. Danilowicz, B.S. 1996. Choice of coral species by naive and field-caught damselfish. Copeia 1996: 735–739.Google Scholar
  13. Doherty, P.J. 1983. Tropical territorial damselfishes: is density limited by aggression or recruitment. Ecology 64: 176–190.Google Scholar
  14. Doherty, P.J. & A. Fowler. 1994a. An empirical test of recruitment limitation in a coral reef fish. Science 263: 935.Google Scholar
  15. Doherty, P.J. & A. Fowler. 1994b. Demographic consequences of variable recruitment to coral reef fish populations: a congeneric comparison of two damselfishes. Bull. Mar. Sci. 54: 297.Google Scholar
  16. Forrester, G.E. 1990. Factors influencing the juvenile demography of a coral reef fish. Ecology 71: 1666–1681.Google Scholar
  17. Forrester, G.E. 1991. Social rank, individual size and group composition as determinants of food consumption by humbug damsclfish, Dascyllus aruunus. Anim. Behav. 42: 701–711.Google Scholar
  18. Forrester, G.E. 1995. Strong density-dependent survival and recruitment regulate the abundance of a coral reef fish. Oecologia 103: 275–282.Google Scholar
  19. Hadfield, M.G. 1986. Settlement and recruitment of marine invertebrates: a perspective and some proposals. Bull. Mar. Sci. 39: 418–425.Google Scholar
  20. Hixon, M.A. & J.P. Beets. 1989. Shelter characteristics and Caribbean fish assemblages: experiments with artificial reefs. Bull. Mar. Sci. 44: 666–680.Google Scholar
  21. Hixon, M. A. & J.P. Beets. 1993. Predation, prey refuges, and the structure of coral-reef fish communites. Ecol. Monogr. 63: 77–101.Google Scholar
  22. Itzkowitz, M. 1990. Heterospecific intruders, territorial defense and reproductive success in the beaugregory damselfish. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 140: 49–59.Google Scholar
  23. Jones, G.P. 1987a. Competitive interactions among adults and juveniles in a coral reef fish. Ecology 68: 1534–1547.Google Scholar
  24. Jones, G.P. 1987b. Some interactions between residents and recruits in two coral reef fishes. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 114: 169–182.Google Scholar
  25. Jones, G. P. 1988. Experimental evaluation of the effects of habitat structure and competitive interactions on the juveniles of two coral reef fishes. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 123: 115–126.Google Scholar
  26. Jones, G.P. 1990. The importance of recruitment to the dynamics of a coral reef fish population. Ecology 71: 1691–1698.Google Scholar
  27. Jones, G.P. 1991. Postrecruitment processes in the ecology of coral reef fish populations. pp. 294–328, In: P.F. Sale (ed.) The Ecology of Fishes on Coral Reefs. Academic Press, San Diego.Google Scholar
  28. Kaufman, L.S. 1997. The threespot damselfish: effects on benthic biota of Caribbean coral reefs. Proc. 3rd Int. Coral Reef Symp. 559–564.Google Scholar
  29. Koltes, K.H. 1993. Aspects of the reproductive biology and social structure of the stoplight parrotfish, Sparisoma viride, at Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos Islands, B.W.I. Bull. Mar. Sci. 52: 729–805.Google Scholar
  30. Leis, J. M. 1991. The pelagic stage of reef fishes: the larval biology of coral reef fishes. pp. 183–230. In: P.F. Sale (ed.) The Ecology of Fishes on Coral Reefs, Academic Press, San Diego.Google Scholar
  31. Levin, P.S. 1993. Habitat structure, conspecific presence and spatial variation in the recruitment of a temperate reef fish. Oecologia 94: 176–185.Google Scholar
  32. Levin, P.S. 1994. Small-scale recruitment variation in a temperate fish: the roles of macrophytes and food supply. Env. Biol. Fish. 40: 271–281.Google Scholar
  33. Levin, P.S. & M.E. Hay, 1996. Responses of temperate reef fishes to alterations in algal structure and species composition. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 1334: 37–47.Google Scholar
  34. Lewis, A.R. 1997. Recruitment and post-recruitment immigration affect the local population size of coral reef fishes. Coral Reefs 16: 139–149.Google Scholar
  35. McGehee, M.A. 1995. Juvenile settlement, survivorship and in situ growth rates of four species of Caribbean damselfishes in the genus Stegastes. Env. Biol. Fish. 44: 393–401.Google Scholar
  36. Menge, B.A. & J.P. Sutherland. 1987. Community regulation: variation in disturbance, competition, and predation in relation to environmental stress and recruitment. Amer. Nat. 130: 730–757.Google Scholar
  37. Milicich, M.J., M.G. Meekan & P.J. Doherty. 1992. Larval supply, a good predictor of recruitment of three species of reef fish (Pomacentridae). Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 86: 153–166.Google Scholar
  38. Morgan, S.G., R.K. Zimmer-Faust, K.L. Heck, Jr. & L.D. Coen. 1996. Population regulation of blue crabs Callinectes sapidus in the northern Gulf of Mexico: postlarval supply. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 133: 73–88.Google Scholar
  39. Reinboth, R. 1968. Protogynie bei Papageifischen (Scaridae). Z. Naturforsch. 23: 852–855.Google Scholar
  40. Richards, S.A., H.P. Possingham & B.J. Noyle. 1995. Larval dispersion along a straight coast with tidal currents: complex distribution patterns from a simple model. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 122: 59–71.Google Scholar
  41. Robertson, D.R., 1988a. Abundances of surgeon fishes on patch-reefs in Caribbean Panama: due to settlement, or post-settlement events? Mar. Biol. 97: 495–501.Google Scholar
  42. Robertson, D.R., 1988b. Extreme variation in settlement of the Caribbcan triggerfish Balistes vetula in Panama. Copeia 1988: 698–703.Google Scholar
  43. Robertson, D.R. 1988c. Settlement and population dynamics of Abudefduf saxatilis on patch reefs in Caribbean Panama. Copeia 1988: 698–703.Google Scholar
  44. Robertson, D.R. 1995. Competitive ability and the potential for lotteries among territorial reef fishes. Oecologia 103: 180–190.Google Scholar
  45. Robertson, D.R. 1996. Egg size in relation to fertilization dynamics in free-spawning tropical reef fishes. Oecologia 108: 95–104.Google Scholar
  46. Roughgarden J., S. Gaines & H. Possingham. 1988. Recruitment dynamics in complex life cycles. Science 241: 1460–1466.Google Scholar
  47. Sale, P.F. 1971. Extremely limited home range in a coral reef fish, Dascyllus aruanus (Pisces; Pomacentridae). Copeia 1971: 324–327.Google Scholar
  48. Sale, P.F. 1980. The ecology of fishes on coral reefs. Oceanogr. Mar. Biol. Ann. Rev. 18: 367–421.Google Scholar
  49. Sale, P.F., W.A. Douglas & P.J. Doherty. 1984. Choice of microhabitats by coral reef fishes at settlement. Coral Reefs. 3: 91–99.Google Scholar
  50. Scheltema, R.S. 1974. Biological interactions determining larval settlement of marine invertebrates. Thalassia Jugosiavia 10: 263–296.Google Scholar
  51. Shanks, A.L. & W. G. Wright. 1987. Internal-wave-mediated shoreward transport of cyprids, megalopae, and gammarids and correlated longshore differences in the settling rate of intertidal barnacles. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 114: 1–13.Google Scholar
  52. Shulman, M.J. 1984. Resource limitation and recruitment patterns in a coral reef fish assemblage. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 74: 85–109.Google Scholar
  53. Shulman, M.J. & J.C. Ogden 1987. What controls tropical reef fish populations: recruitment of benthic mortality? An example in the Caribbean reef fish Haemulon flavolincatum. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 39: 233–242.Google Scholar
  54. Sponaugle, S. & R.K. Cowen. 1996. Nearshore patterns of coral reef fish larval supply to Barbados, West Indies. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 133: 13–28.Google Scholar
  55. Sundberg, K. & V.S. Kennedy. 1993. Larval settlement of the Atlantic rangia, Rangia cuneam (Bivalvia: Maculdac). Estuaries 16: 223–228.Google Scholar
  56. Sutherland, J.P. 1990. Recruitment regulates demographic variation in a tropical intertidal barnacle. Ecology 71: 955–972.Google Scholar
  57. Sweatman, H.P.A. 1985. The influence of adults of some coral reef fishes on larval recruitment. Ecol. Monogr. 55: 469–485.Google Scholar
  58. Sweatman, H.P.A. 1988. Field evidence that settling coral reef fish larvae detect resident fishes using dissolved chemical cues. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 124: 163–174.Google Scholar
  59. Thorson, G. 1950. Reproductive and larval ecology of marine bottom invertebrates. Biol. Rev. 25: 1–45.Google Scholar
  60. Thresher, R.E. 1976. Field analysis of the territoriality of the threespot damselfish, Eupomacentrus planifrons (Pomacentridae). Copeia 1976: 266–276.Google Scholar
  61. Tolimieri, N. 1995. Effects of microhabital characteristics on the settlement and recruitment of a coral reef fish at two spatial scales. Oecologia 102: 52–63.Google Scholar
  62. Tolimieri, N. 1998. The relationship between microhabital characteristics, recruitment and adult abundance in the stoplight parrotfish, Sparisoma viride, at three spatial scales. Bull. Mar. Sci. 61: (in press).Google Scholar
  63. Underwood, A.J. & E.J. Denley. 1984. Paradigms, explanations, and generalizations in models for the structure of intertidal communities on rocky shores. pp. 151–180 In: D.R. Strong Jr, D. Simberloff, L.G. Abele & A.B. Thistle (ed.) Ecological Communities: Conceptual Issues and the Evidence. Princeton University Press, Princeton.Google Scholar
  64. Underwood, A.J. & P.G. Fairweather 1989. Supply-side ecology and benthic marine assemblages. Trends Ecol. Evol. 4: 16–19.Google Scholar
  65. Victor, B.C. 1983. Recruitment and population dynamics of a coral reef fish. Science 219: 419–420.Google Scholar
  66. Victor, B.C. 1986. Larval settlement and juvenile mortality in a recruitment-limited coral reef fish population. Ecol. Monogr. 56: 145–160.Google Scholar
  67. Wellington, G.M. 1992. Habitat selection and juvenile persistence control the distribution of two closely related Caribbean damselfishes. Oecologia 90: 500–508.Google Scholar
  68. Williams, D.M., S. English & M.J. Milicich. 1994. Annual recruitment surveys of coral reef fishes are good indicators of patterns of settlement. Bull. Mar. Sci. 54: 314–331.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicholas Tolimieri
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of WindsorWindsorCanada

Personalised recommendations