Coral reef fish assemblages: intra- and interspecific competition for shelter sites
Synopsis: Observations were made on intra- and interspecific aggressive interactions among the fishes living in the rubble/sand coral reef habitat in St. Croix, U. S. Virgin Islands. Four species (beaugregory — Stegastes leucostictus; ocean surgeonfish — Acanthurus bahianus; doctor fish — A. chirurgus; common squirrelfish — Holocentrus rufus) which sheltered in holes on the reef all actively defended one to several shelter sites at dusk. Short-term shelter side fidelity was observed in three of these four species. Agonistic interactions over both food and shelter occurred during the daytime but much less frequently than agonistic interactions over shelter at dusk. Dominance in intraspecific aggression was determined almost completely by the relative sizes of the individuals involved, with the larger individuals dominating in 95–98% of all encounters. A similar, but less strong, relationship between size and dominance existed for interactions between closely related species. For aggressive encounters between unrelated species, however, both relative sizes and species identity determined the outcome. Species, both diurnal and nocturnal, which strongly defend several shelter sites may have a strong and disproportionate impact on the sheltering behavior of other fishes. Intraspecific and interspecific defense of shelter sites may determine the patterns of mortality that result from predation, thereby influencing population abundances and assemblage composition.
- 1 - sciences appliquees, technologies et medecines
- 2 - sciences biologiques et medicales
- 3 - sciences biologiques fondamentales et appliquees. psychologie
- 4 - ethologie animale
- 1 - Life Sciences ; 2 - Agricultural and Biological Sciences ; 3 - Aquatic Science
- 1 - Life Sciences ; 2 - Agricultural and Biological Sciences ; 3 - Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics