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DIETARY PARTIONING OF HERBIVOROUS REEF FISH IN THE CARIBBEAN

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title
DIETARY PARTIONING OF HERBIVOROUS REEF FISH IN THE CARIBBEAN
author
Ward, Madeleine Grace
abstract
Herbivory is a key ecological process in shaping the benthic community of tropical coral reefs and roving herbivorous fish are the primary herbivore in the system. Knowing the abundances, distributions, and diets of these species is essential for understanding their ecosystem function. Yet, due to methodological limitations we lack a basic understanding of how many roving herbivores there are, how their community structure changes across a reefscape and what they eat. This thesis contains two parts: In Chapter One, I estimate population size and community composition from one of the largest survey efforts ever conducted in the Caribbean. I found that abundance estimates are affected by the sampling intensity, number of divers conducting the survey, and dive tourism presence. Then, I present a method using General Joint Additive Model to correct abundance estimates for these methodological inaccuracies. In Chapter Two, I look at the dietary partitioning of roving herbivorous fish by looking at diet composition, dietary overlap, and abundance. I use dual carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes from tissue samples to measure dietary overlap. I find evidence for interspecific dietary partitioning and ontogenetic dietary shifts for a few of the protogynous hermaphroditic species. Together these chapters show that there is high feeding complementarity among roving herbivorous fish species and low redundancy which mean that maintaining and accurately estimating herbivorous fish populations is important for coral reef resilience.
contributor
Silman, Miles R (advisor)
Anderson, Todd Michael (committee member)
Layman, Craig (committee member)
Floge, Sheri (committee member)
date
2023-07-25T17:48:42Z (accessioned)
2023 (issued)
degree
Biology (discipline)
embargo
2024-06-06 (terms)
2024-06-06 (liftdate)
identifier
http://hdl.handle.net/10339/102263 (uri)
language
en (iso)
publisher
Wake Forest University
type
Thesis

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