Scales of spatial variation in demography of a large coral reef fish: an exception to the typical model?
Williams, AJ and Davies, CR and Mapstone, BD and Russ, GR, Scales of spatial variation in demography of a large coral reef fish: an exception to the typical model?, Fishery Bulletin, 101, (3) pp. 673-683. ISSN 0090-0656 (2003) [Refereed Article]
Spatial variation in demographic parameters of the red throat emperor (Lethrinus miniatus) was examined among 12 coral reefs in three geographic regions (Townsville, Mackay, and Storm Cay) spanning over 3° of latitude of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Estimates of demographic parameters were based on age estimates from counts of annuli in whole otoliths because there was no significant difference in age estimates between whole and sectioned otoliths. There were significant regional differences in age structures, rates of somatic and otolith growth, and total mortality. The Townsville region was characterized by the greatest proportion of older fish, the smallest maximum size, and the lowest rates of otolith growth and total mortality. In contrast the Mackay region was characterized by the highest proportion of younger fish, the largest maximum size, and the highest rates of otolith growth and total mortality. Demographic parameters for the Storm Cay region were intermediate between the other two regions. Historic differences in fishing pressure and regional differences in productivity are two alternative hypotheses given to explain the regional patterns in demographic parameters. All demographic parameters were similar among the four reefs within each region. Thus, subpopulations with relatively homogeneous demographic parameters occurred on scales of reef clusters. Previous studies, by contrast, have found substantial between-reef variation in demographic parameters within regions. Thus spatial variation in demographic parameters for L. miniatus may differ from what is assumed typical for a coral-reef fish metapopulation.