Effects of microhabitat and metabolic rate on food intake, growth and fecundity of two competing coral reef fishes
Spinyhead blennies (Acanthemblemaria spinosa) and roughhead blennies (A. aspera) are planktivorous hole-dwelling fishes that live in dead coral skeletons. Both species are known to choose shelters high above the reef surface (although spinyheads displace roughheads downwards). To test the hypothesis that this preference is due to greater plankton availability in higher locations, fish were placed on artificial habitats located 15 cm and 100 cm above the surface of a natural reef. Both species experienced higher feeding rates, growth rates, and fecundities in high locations, and spinyhead rates generally exceeded roughhead rates at a given height. Under laboratory conditions, oxygen consumption by spinyheads was 1.6 times greater than that of roughheads and this corresponds well with the 1.8 ratio of feeding rates under controlled aquarium conditions. This information provides a partial explanation for the observed microhabitat distribution and resulting coexistence of these competing species: it is hypothesized that spinyheads have an advantage in agonistic interactions because of their higher metabolic rates, thus excluding roughheads from high sites, but that roughheads can persist at low sites because their lower metabolic rates result in lower food demands. A model is presented that predicts varying occurrences and vertical distributions of these species in locations with different zooplankton densities.
- 1 - sciences appliquees, technologies et medecines
- 2 - sciences biologiques et medicales
- 3 - sciences biologiques fondamentales et appliquees. psychologie