Effects of structural complexity on Sharpnose Pufferfish, Canthigaster rostrata (Tetraodontidae), abundance and size in the shallows of Bonaire, Dutch Caribbean

The Sharpnose Pufferfish, Canthigaster rostrata, as well as other species within the Tetraodontidae family are common reef fish found in tropical and subtropical waters. Past studies on some of the 36 species within the same genus share consistent observations on their haremic structure, territorial nature, and spawning patterns. Although research has been done specifically on C. rostrata in Panama, little is known about C. rostrata in the Lesser Antilles. This study provides ecological data on the correlation between territory size and complexity, as well as the size and abundance of individual C. rostrata. Over the course of five weeks, the size, abundance, and behavior of C. rostrata were recorded. Data was collected at five specific structures at a local dive site known as Yellow Submarine. A custom-designed complexity chart was made to rank these structures in order of complexity. Results indicated that structure volume is a criterion that affects complexity, but that it is not the main one. Results also showed that more complex structures hosted more individuals on average from highest to lowest (mean ± SD), was 5.62 ± 1.18, 4.12 ± 1.80, 2.14 ± 1.06, 1.20 ± 1 and 1.62 ± 0.91. More complex structures also hosted larger individuals of C. rostrata on average from highest to lowest (mean ± SD), was 4.81 cm ± 0.6, 3.06 cm ± 0, 2.9 ± 0.35, 2.55 ± 0.44, and 2.43 ± 0.5.

This student research was retrieved from Physis: Journal of Marine Science XIX (Spring 2016)19: 22-27 from CIEE Bonaire.

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