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Community structure and diet of roving herbivorous reef fishes in the Abrolhos Archipelago, south-western Atlantic

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Community structure and diet of roving herbivorous reef fishes were analysed in 13 study sites around the five islands of the Abrolhos Archipelago, north-eastern Brazil (17°58′ S; 38°42′ W). This area has been part of the Abrolhos Marine National Park since 1983. Abundances and diets of fishes within the families Scaridae, Acanthuridae and Kyphosidae were compared among groups of sites differing in benthic community structure and exposure regime. The abundance of roving herbivorous fishes was higher in shallower sites than in deeper sites. At all study sites, observations of total herbivorous reef fish community structure revealed that 64% of fishes were acanthurids, 33% were scarids and only 4% were kyphosids. This pattern was predominant in all study sites. The majority of fishes examined in this study had the bulk of their diet based on both algae (35–90%) and detritus (35–65%). Among groups of algae, filamentous algae were the most commonly consumed as the majority of roving herbivorous fishes in Abrolhos feed as scrapers and excavators. The exceptions were the kyphosids, which had a diet consisting primarily of macroalgae (mainly Phaeophyta), and Acanthurus coeruleus that consumed mainly turf algae and very little detritus. The data collected indicate that roving herbivorous fishes in the Abrolhos Archipelago are more abundant at calm sites where detritus and delicate algae, their major food resources, are more abundant. The results presented here, along with underwater observations, suggest that the abundance and diet of these three fish families are associated with substratum cover.

Keywords: Abrolhos Archipelago; community structure; fish diet; herbivorous reef fishes; substratum diversity

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: Dept de Oceanografia, Instituto de Estudos do Mar Almirante Paulo Moreira (IEAPM), Rua Kioto 253, Arraial do Cabo, RJ, Cep:28930000, Brazil

Publication date: 2006-11-01

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