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Benthic community composition influences within-habitat variation in macroalgal browsing on the Great Barrier Reef


Cvitanovic, C and Hoey, AS, Benthic community composition influences within-habitat variation in macroalgal browsing on the Great Barrier Reef, Marine and Freshwater Research, 61, (9) pp. 999-1005. ISSN 1323-1650 (2010) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright CSIRO 2010

DOI: doi:10.1071/MF09168


The removal of macroalgae by herbivores is fundamental to the long-term persistence of coral reefs. Variation in macroalgal browsing has been documented across a range of spatial scales on coral reefs; however, few studies have examined the factors that influence within-habitat rates of herbivory. The aim of the present study was to quantify herbivory on two species of Sargassum across three bays on an inshore island in the central Great Barrier Reef (GBR), and to determine whether these removal rates were related to the benthic composition or herbivorous fish communities. Removal rates of Sargassum differed significantly among bays, with removal rates in the southern bay (66.983.0% per 3h) being approximately double that of the two other bays (29.238.5% per 3h). The removal rates displayed a direct relationship with the benthic community structure, in particular the cover of macroalgae and live plate corals. Although it is difficult to determine whether these relationships are related to the availability of food resources or the structural complexity of the substratum, they highlight the potential influence of benthic composition on ecological processes. Quantifying and understanding the drivers of herbivory across a range of spatial scales is essential to the future management of coral reefs.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:benthic composition, coral reefs, herbivory, macroalgal assay, resilience, spatial variation
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology)
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences
UTAS Author:Cvitanovic, C (Dr Christopher Cvitanovic)
ID Code:105190
Year Published:2010
Web of Science® Times Cited:10
Deposited By:IMAS Research and Education Centre
Deposited On:2015-12-12
Last Modified:2016-08-02

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