Aquatic Ecology

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 73–86 | Cite as

Fish feeding guilds along a gradient of bay biotopes and coral reef depth zones

  • I. Nagelkerken
  • G. van der Velde
  • E. Cocheret de la Morinière


The study of fish feeding guild structure is a useful method to compare fish communities of complex marine ecosystems. Guild structure was determined in four coral reef depth zones, viz. the fringing reef at depths of 2, 5, 10, and 15 m, as well as in seven shallow-water biotopes within a single bay, viz. notches in fossil reef rock, mangroves, fossil reef boulders, seagrass beds, algal beds at a depth of 2 m, algal beds at a depth of 5 m, and the channel. The study was done in an inland bay on the Caribbean island of Curaçao, using a visual census technique. Total fish densities within the different feeding guilds varied considerably between the biotopes, and were generally higher in the reef biotopes and on the boulders than in the remaining bay biotopes. Cluster analysis revealed that the greatest dissimilarity in guild structures in terms of fish densities was that between the algal beds and all other biotopes, followed by that between the reef depth zones and other bay biotopes (notches, mangroves, seagrass beds, channel). The species composition of the guilds also differed considerably among the various biotopes. Species richness within the various guilds showed much smaller differences between the biotopes, but was generally somewhat higher in the reef biotopes. Cluster analysis of guild structures in terms of species richness revealed little dissimilarity among the various biotopes. The coral reef was dominated by omnivores and zooplanktivores, whereas the bay was dominated by zoobenthivores and herbivores. Differences in guild structure between the bay and the adjacent reef indicate differences in food availability.

bay biotopes coral reef fish Curaçao guild structure mangroves reef zones seagrass beds 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bak RPM (1975) Ecological aspects of the distribution of reef corals in the Netherlands Antilles. Bijdr Dierk 45: 181-190Google Scholar
  2. Blaber SJM (1980) Fish of the Trinity inlet system of north Queensland with notes on the ecology of fish faunas of tropical Indo-Pacific estuaries. Aust J Mar Freshwater Res 31: 137-146Google Scholar
  3. Carr WES and Adams CA (1973) Food habits of juvenile marine fishes occupying seagrass beds in the estuarine zone near Crystal River, Florida. Trans Amer Fish Soc 102: 511-540Google Scholar
  4. de Buisonjé PH and Zonneveld JIS (1960) De kustvormen van Curaçao, Aruba en Bonaire. Natuur Wetenschappelijke Werkgroep Nederlandse Antillen II. Martinus Nijhoff, 's GravenhageGoogle Scholar
  5. de Haan D and Zaneveld JS (1959) Some notes on tides in Annabaai harbour, Curaçao, Netherlands Antilles. Bull Mar Sci Gulf Caribb 9: 224-236Google Scholar
  6. Elliott M and Dewailly F (1995) The structure and components of European estuarine fish assemblages. Neth J Aquat Ecol 29: 397-417Google Scholar
  7. English S, Wilkinson C and Baker V (1994) Survey manual for tropical marine resources. ASEAN-Australia marine science project: living coastal resources. Australian Institute of Marine Science, Townsville, pp. 68-80Google Scholar
  8. Gladfelter WB and Gladfelter EH (1978) Fish community structure as a function of habitat structure on West Indian patch reefs. Rev Biol Trop 26 (Suppl. 1): 65-84Google Scholar
  9. Gladfelter WB, Ogden JC and Gladfelter EH (1980) Similarity and diversity among coral reef fish communities: a comparison between tropical western Atlantic (Virgin Islands) and tropical central Pacific (Marshall Islands) patch reefs. Ecology 61: 1156-1168Google Scholar
  10. Goldman B and Talbot FH (1976) Aspects of the ecology of coral reef fishes. In: Jones OA and Endean R (eds.) Biology and geology of coral reefs. Vol. III: Biology 2 (pp. 125-154) Academic Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  11. Jones GP, Ferrell DJ and Sale PF (1991) Fish predation and its impact on the invertebrates of coral reefs and adjacent sediments. In: Sale PF (ed.), The ecology of fishes on coral reefs. Academic Press, San Diego, pp. 156-179Google Scholar
  12. Kuenen MMCE and Debrot AO (1995) A quantitative study of the seagrass and algal meadows of the Spaanse Water, Curaçao, The Netherlands Antilles. Aquat Bot 51: 291-310Google Scholar
  13. Livingston RJ (1982) Trophic organization of fishes in a coastal seagrass system. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 7: 1-12Google Scholar
  14. Mathieson S, Cattrijsse A, Costa MJ, Drake P, Elliott M, Gardner J, Marchand J (2000) Fish assemblages of European tidal marshes: a comparison based on species, families and functional guilds. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 204: 225-242Google Scholar
  15. Nagelkerken I, Dorenbosch M, Verberk WCEP, Cocheret de la Morinière E and van der Velde G (2000a). Day-night shifts of fishes between shallow-water biotopes of a Caribbean bay, with emphasis on the nocturnal feeding of Haemulidae and Lutjanidae. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 194: 55-64Google Scholar
  16. Nagelkerken I, Dorenbosch M, Verberk WCEP, Cocheret de la Morinière E and van der Velde G (2000b) Importance of shallowwater biotopes of a Caribbean bay for juvenile coral reef fishes: patterns in biotope association, community structure and spatial distribution. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 202: 175-192Google Scholar
  17. Nagelkerken I, van der Velde G, Gorissen MW, Meijer GJ, van't Hof T and den Hartog C (2000c) Importance of mangroves, seagrass beds and the shallow coral reef as a nursery for important coral reef fishes, using a visual census technique. Estuar Coastal Shelf Sci 51: 31-44Google Scholar
  18. Nagelkerken I, Kleijnen S, Klop T, van den Brand RACJ, Cocheret de la Morinière E and van der Velde G (2001) Dependence of Caribbean reef fishes on mangroves and seagrass beds as nursery habitats: a comparison of fish faunas between bays with and without mangroves/seagrass beds. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 214: 225-235.Google Scholar
  19. Ogden JC and Gladfelter EH (1983) Coral reefs, seagrass beds, and mangroves: their interaction in the coastal zones of the Caribbean. UNESCO Rep Mar Sci 23Google Scholar
  20. Parrish JD (1989) Fish communities of interacting shallow-water habitats in tropical oceanic regions. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 58: 143-160Google Scholar
  21. Parrish JD and Zimmerman RJ (1977) Utilization by fishes of space and food resources on an offshore Puerto Rican coral reef and its surroundings. Proc 3rd Int Coral Reef Symp 1: 297-303Google Scholar
  22. Randall JE (1967) Food habits of reef fishes in theWest Indies. Stud Trop Oceanogr 5: 665-847Google Scholar
  23. Sale PF (1991) The Ecology of Fishes on Coral Reefs. Academic Press, San DiegoGoogle Scholar
  24. Sokal RR and Michener CD (1958) A statistical method for evaluating systematic relationships. Kansas Univer Sci Bull 38: 1409-1438Google Scholar
  25. Starck WA and Davis WP (1966) Night habits of fishes of Alligator reef, Florida. Ichthyol Aquarium J 38: 313-356Google Scholar
  26. Thresher RE and Colin PL (1986) Trophic structure, diversity and abundance of fishes of the deep reef (30-300 m) at Enewetak, Marshall Islands. Bull Mar Sci 38: 253-272Google Scholar
  27. Williams DMcB and Hatcher AI (1983) Structure of fish communities on outer slopes of inshore, mid-shelf and outer shelf reefs of the Great Barrier Reef. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 10: 239-250Google Scholar
  28. Wishart D (1978) CLUSTAN user manual. Programme Library Unit, Edinburgh University, EdinburghGoogle Scholar
  29. Wootton RJ (1990) Ecology of teleost fishes. Chapman and Hall, LondonGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • I. Nagelkerken
    • 1
    • 2
  • G. van der Velde
    • 1
  • E. Cocheret de la Morinière
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Animal Ecology and EcophysiologyUniversity of NijmegenED NijmegenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Carmabi FoundationCuraçaoNetherlands Antilles

Personalised recommendations