MEPS - Vol. 555 - FEATURE ARTICLE


Response of fairy and blackcap basslets (Gramma loreto and G. melacara, respectively) in competitor-removal (lower) versus control populations (upper right). Following removals, juveniles of each species shift toward the front of reef ledges where individual feeding and growth rates are enhanced. Diagram: Tye L. Kindinger

Kindinger TL

 

Symmetrical effects of interspecific competition on congeneric coral-reef fishes

In contrast with temperate systems, the importance of competition in causing patterns of distribution in marine fishes has seldom been demonstrated in tropical systems. Throughout Caribbean reefs, fairy and blackcap basslets (Gramma loreto and G.melacara, respectively) are segregated by depth with a narrow zone of overlap. Within this zone, Kindinger investigated the existence, mechanisms, and effects of interspecific competition on the distribution and demography of basslets in local populations under isolated reef ledges. Observations of behavior and a reciprocal removal experiment revealed interference between species drove juvenile basslets further back under ledges where feeding and growth rates of individuals were reduced. This study demonstrates symmetrical effects of interspecific competition on juvenile coral-reef fishes, which has rarely been previously documented.

 

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