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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
Article

Abstract

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 

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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

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