Full Project Title: 
Facilitation between corals and fish herbivores on Caribbean coral reefs
Project Summary: 

Reef-building corals produce large-scale limestone structures that provide habitat to many organisms. We are interested in studying the response of parrotfish (Scaridae), a group of herbivorous fish that play a crucial role in coral reef resilience. Corals providerefuges against predation to parrotfish, which, in turn, control macroalgal overgrowth and thus competition with corals. Therefore, corals and parrotfish are mutually beneficial, and we aim to study the dynamics of these positive feedbacks and their significance for coral reef resilience. Using empirical observations from Glovers Atoll in Belize, we are studying the response of parrotfish populations to gradients in habitat complexity, with special interest to the form (i.e., linear or non-linear) and strength of this relationship according to the species, life-phase and size of fish individuals. Empirical data will be used to parameterize a model describing the competition between corals and macroalgae under the control of parrotfish herbivory. Model simulations will investigate coral-algal dynamics for systems facing different levels of disturbances (fishing and habitat degradation). This project will allow us to determine the importance of positive feedbacks between corals and parrotfish for the persistence of a coral-dominated state on Caribbean coral reefs.

Funding Sources: 

This project is funded through an EU FORCE Project (grant 244161) of the FP7, UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), ARC Laureate Fellowship and Pew Fellowship awards to PM.

  • Project Collaborators

    Dr Yves-Marie Bozecy.bozec@uq.edu.au 

    Post Doctoral Fellow
    School of Biological Sciences 
    The University of Queensland

    Prof Peter J. Mumbyp.j.mumby@uq.edu.au 

    School of Biological Sciences
    The University of Queensland

    Dr Laith Yakob, laith.yakob@uq.edu.au 

    Post Doctoral Fellow
    School of Biological Sciences
    The University of Queensland

    Dr Sonia Bejaranos.bejarano@uq.edu.au 

    Post Doctoral Fellow
    The University of Western Australia/ The University of Queensland

  • Publications

    Bozec Y-M; Yakob, L; Bejarano, S; Mumby, PJ (2013) Reciprocal facilitation and non-linearity maintain habitat engineering on coral reefs. Oikos 122(3): 428–440. 

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