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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 286:307-310 (2005)  -  doi:10.3354/meps286307

Boom-or-bust growth in coral reef lagoons

Kathryn D. Kavanagh*

Department of Marine Biology, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland 4811, Australia
Present address: Evolution and Development Unit, Institute of Biotechnology, PO Box 56, University of Helsinki 00014, Finland

ABSTRACT: This study reports the results of a natural experiment demonstrating that wind-mediated growth compensation occurs in wild juvenile damselfishes Acanthochromis polyacanthus Bleeker, 1855 (Pomacentridae) living in a coral reef lagoon. Strong wind conditions are thought to bring additional oceanic plankton into the lagoon through increased wave height and water movement. The strong winds and presumed burst of food were found to rapidly increase growth rate in lagoon juveniles beyond that of exposed-reef conspecifics. Under calm conditions, lagoon juveniles grew more slowly than exposed-reef juveniles, and analysis of foregut fullness indicated that lagoon juveniles under calm conditions ate significantly less than exposed-reef juveniles. These results fit the definition of compensatory growth and provide some of the first evidence of this phenomenon in wild fish populations. Eye growth was also measured and found to be less responsive than growth in length.

KEY WORDS: Growth compensation · Coral reef · Habitat

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