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Relationships between structural complexity, coral traits, and reef fish assemblages


Darling, ES and Graham, NAJ and Januchowski-Hartley, FA and Nash, KL and Pratchett, MS and Wilson, SK, Relationships between structural complexity, coral traits, and reef fish assemblages, Coral Reefs, 36, (2) pp. 561-575. ISSN 0722-4028 (2017) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2017 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg

DOI: doi:10.1007/s00338-017-1539-z


With the ongoing loss of coral cover and the associated flattening of reef architecture, understanding the links between coral habitat and reef fishes is of critical importance. Here, we investigate whether considering coral traits and functional diversity provides new insights into the relationship between structural complexity and reef fish communities, and whether coral traits and community composition can predict structural complexity. Across 157 sites in Seychelles, Maldives, the Chagos Archipelago, and Australiaís Great Barrier Reef, we find that structural complexity and reef zone are the strongest and most consistent predictors of reef fish abundance, biomass, species richness, and trophic structure. However, coral traits, diversity, and life histories provided additional predictive power for models of reef fish assemblages, and were key drivers of structural complexity. Our findings highlight that reef complexity relies on living coralsówith different traits and life historiesócontinuing to build carbonate skeletons, and that these nuanced relationships between coral assemblages and habitat complexity can affect the structure of reef fish assemblages. Seascape-level estimates of structural complexity are rapid and cost effective with important implications for the structure and function of fish assemblages, and should be incorporated into monitoring programs.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Habitat diversity, species traits, functional ecology, reef architecture, Scleractinian corals, coral reef fish
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Ecological applications
Research Field:Ecosystem function
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Marine systems and management
Objective Field:Marine biodiversity
UTAS Author:Nash, KL (Dr Kirsty Nash)
ID Code:113671
Year Published:2017
Web of Science® Times Cited:150
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2017-01-13
Last Modified:2018-04-18

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