Habitat selection of the coral-dwelling spinyhead blenny, Acanthemblemaria spinosa, at Curaçao, Dutch Caribbean

The distribution, abundance, and habitat preferences of the spinyhead blenny, Acanthemblemaria spinosa (Perciformes, Blennioidei, Chaenopsidae), were studied on coral reefs along the leeward side of Curaçao, southern Caribbean. The blennies inhabited small holes inside coral, which predominantly consisted of calcareous tubes constructed by coral-associated serpulid worms of the species Spirobranchus giganteus. About 50 % of the fish inhabited holes in dead coral, and the rest had their holes in live corals of eight species. The fishes showed a clustered distribution pattern and their abundance was higher at shallow depths (5 and 10 m) than at 15 m. Although males generally had a larger body size than females and needed larger holes for shelter and guarding eggs, no sexual dominance in hole selection was found. The position of the holes varied in elevation height above the reef floor, which showed a positive correlation with fish size.

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