Author Posting. © Springer-Verlag, 2008. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of Springer-Verlag for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Coral Reefs 27 (2008): 541-551, doi:10.1007/s00338-008-0357-8.
Many coral reef fishes exhibit distinct ontogenetic shifts in habitat use while
some species settle directly in adult habitats, but there is not any general explanation to
account for these differences in settlement strategies among coral reef fishes. This study
compared distribution patterns and habitat associations of juvenile (young of the year)
butterflyfishes to those of adult conspecifics. Three species, Chaetodon auriga,
Chaetodon melannotus, and Chaetodon vagabundus, all of which have limited reliance
on coral for food, exhibited marked differences in habitat association of juvenile versus
adult individuals. Juveniles of these species were consistently found in shallow-water
habitats, whereas adult conspecifics were widely distributed throughout a range of
habitats. Juveniles of seven other species (Chaetodon aureofasciatus, Chaetodon
baronessa, Chaetodon citrinellus, Chaetodon lunulatus, Chaetodon plebeius,
Chaetodon rainfordi, and Chaetodon trifascialis), all of which feed predominantly on
live corals, settled directly into habitat occupied by adult conspecifics. Butterflyfishes
with strong reliance on corals appear to be constrained to settle in habitats that provide
access to essential prey resources, precluding their use of distinct juvenile habitats.
More generalist butterflyfishes, however, appear to utilise distinct juvenile habitats and
exhibit marked differences in the distribution of juveniles versus adults.
This research was funded by a JCU Program Grant to MSP, while MLB was
supported by an NSF (USA) Graduate Research Fellowship.
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