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Parrotfish functional morphology and bioerosion on SW Atlantic reefs

Nicole Tiburcio Lellys, Rodrigo Leão de Moura, Roberta Martini Bonaldo, Ronaldo Bastos Francini-Filho, Fernando Zaniolo Gibran*

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ABSTRACT: Parrotfishes (Labridae: Scarini) have jaws formed by teeth fused into a beak-like structure in most species, and are classified into three functional groups (browsers, scrapers and excavators) based on jaw morphology, foraging behavior and feeding impact on the benthos. We compared the feeding morphology of three parrotfish species in the Abrolhos Bank, SW Atlantic. We also estimated rates of bioerosion caused by the largest and most abundant parrotfish in the region, Scarus trispinosus, and compared with estimates from 12 species. The three species differed in dentary, suspensorium and mouth/head height. Large (>40 cm) Sc. trispinosus individuals were functionally classified as excavators because of their body size, robust premaxilla and jaws with simple joints, in addition to the large proportion of their bites leaving pronounced marks on substratum. Large (>40 cm) adults of Sparisoma amplum were also classified as excavators because of their mouth/head height, dentary and suspensorium size and robust jaws (dentary) with simple joints. Scarus zelindae had the most mobile jaw among the three species and was functionally classified as a scraper, as were juveniles or initial phase of the other two species. Body size and feeding rates of Sc. trispinosus were positively correlated with the volume of substratum removed, with large adults removing 207 cm3 d-1 and eroding ~75,500 cm3 y-1. Our results reinforce the importance of studies on jaw morphology and osteology for the assessment of parrotfish feeding modes and indicate that large adult Sc. trispinosus and Sp. amplum play unique roles as excavating fishes in Abrolhos.