MEPS 541:65-73 (2015)  -  DOI:

Effects of the sand tilefish Malacanthus plumieri on the structure and dynamics of a rhodolith bed in the Fernando de Noronha Archipelago, tropical West Atlantic

Guilherme Henrique Pereira-Filho1,*, Priscila de Cerqueira Veras1,2, Ronaldo Bastos Francini-Filho3, Rodrigo Leão de Moura4, Hudson Tercio Pinheiro5,6, Fernando Zaniolo Gibran2, Zaira Matheus7, Leonardo Mitrano Neves4, Gilberto Menezes Amado-Filho7

1Instituto do Mar, Universidade Federal de São Paulo, Campus Baixada Santista, 11030-400, Santos, SP, Brazil
2Universidade Federal do ABC, Centro de Ciências Naturais e Humanas, Jardim Antares, Bloco Delta, 09606-070, São Bernardo do Campo, SP, Brazil
3Departamento de Engenharia e Meio Ambiente, Universidade Federal da Paraíba, 58297-000, Rio Tinto, PB, Brazil
4Instituto de Biologia and SAGE-COPPE, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, 21944-970, Ilha do Fundão, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil
5Department of Ichthyology, California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA
6Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA
7Instituto de Pesquisas Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro, 22460-030, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Rhodoliths are free-living calcareous nodules composed of non-geniculate coralline Rhodophyta algae. One potential rhodolith bioturbator is the sand tilefish Malacanthus plumieri, which builds mounds with these nodules over sand bottoms. Here, we tested (1) whether mounds act as a different habitat within a rhodolith bed, supporting specific associated assemblages, and (2) the potential role of M. plumieri as a bioturbation agent on rhodolith beds. We used multiple techniques (benthic and fish assemblage assessments, and videos with marked rhodoliths to assess fish behavior) to compare fish-built mounds with non-mounded control areas. M. plumieri was not observed removing rhodoliths from mounds; however, it spent 15% of its time rearranging mounds or adding new rhodoliths to the mound. A higher fish richness was recorded on mounds (mean = 9.4 ± SE 1.7) compared with the non-mounded control areas (5.5 ± SE 2.7) (t = -2.2; p < 0.05). The benthic assemblages also differed between the mounds and the control areas (PERMANOVA, Pseudo-F = 11.8 and p < 0.01). The categories that contributed most to dissimilarity between mounds and non-mounded control areas (SIMPER) were crustose coralline algae free of epiphytes and sand (15.5%), Dictyota jamaicensis (9.8%), Dictyota pulchella (9.4%), sand (9.3%) and Dictyopteris justii (8.2%). Because of their contribution to seascape heterogeneity, we suggest that the presence of M. plumieri mounds is an important variable in predicting diversity in rhodolith beds.

KEY WORDS: Rhodophyta · Dispersion · Benthic assemblages · Reef fish assemblages · Oceanic island · Seascape · Rhodolith · Ecological engineers

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Cite this article as: Pereira-Filho GH, Veras PC, Francini-Filho RB, Moura RL and others (2015) Effects of the sand tilefish Malacanthus plumieri on the structure and dynamics of a rhodolith bed in the Fernando de Noronha Archipelago, tropical West Atlantic. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 541:65-73.

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