MEPS 226:135-142 (2002)  -  doi:10.3354/meps226135

Patterns of foraging in labrid fishes

Christopher J. Fulton*, David R. Bellwood

Department of Marine Biology, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland 4811, Australia

ABSTRACT: Patterns of foraging behaviour are described for a local assemblage of wrasses (Labridae) at the within-habitat scale of 2 fringing reef sites at Lizard Island, northern Great Barrier Reef, to examine the relationship between locomotor abilities and foraging patterns. Focal individual censuses were used to record the distances travelled by individuals over 30 s and 5 min time periods, and their substratum microhabitat preferences during searching and feeding. Size of short-term foraging ranges, estimated by linear start-to-finish distances, appeared to be driven largely by the shape of the foraging path. Two major foraging modes were identified: directed (widely-foraging) and convoluted (restricted). Within each mode, a strong positive relationship was observed between estimated locomotory ability and foraging distances. Four major groups of foraging-microhabitat preferences were apparent: neutral foraging and positive selection towards aggregates, dead coral heads, or live coral. A weak relationship between foraging mode and estimated patch size of preferred microhabitats was observed, with species having a directed foraging mode most frequently selecting more spatially discrete microhabitats.

KEY WORDS: Foraging · Ecomorphology · Habitat use · Selectivity · Labridae · Locomotion · Coral reefs · Patch size

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