Habitat use, nocturnal behavior, and differences between phases of five common parrotfish species in Bonaire, N.A.

Parrotfish are a common and important component of the fringing reefs ecosystem surrounding Bonaire, N.A. In the reef environment, large herbivores like parrotfish graze on macroalgae, allowing for higher coral diversity and abundance. This research studies habitat use among five common species of parrotfish, Scarus guacamaia, Sparisoma viride, Scarus taeniopterus, Sparisoma aurofrenatum, and Scarus vetula found on the leeward coast of Bonaire. The study was performed between Playa Lechi and Something Special dive sites, where transect tapes were placed at three depths representing different habitat types (shallow ridge, reef crest, and reef slope). After a brief recovery period (~ 1 hour), abundances of initial phase and terminal phase parrotfish were determined using SCUBA during midday, and again at night. Parrotfish density was higher during the day than at night and was significantly different among the three depths. Fisher’s PLSD post-hoc test showed that parrotfish density was significantly higher at 12 m than at 1 or 20 m. During the day, density of initial phase parrotfish was significantly higher than terminal phase, but there was no difference among the three depths. At night, there was no difference between the density of initial phase and terminal phase parrotfish, but there were more parrotfish found at 12 m than at 1 or 20 m. Based on the results of this study, more parrotfish are spotted during the day, parrotfish are found most often at 12 m during the night and day, and there are more initial phase parrotfish than terminal phase at all three depths during the day. Overall, significant findings include information about parrotfish habitat and differences between phases, with the additional note that 12 m depth seems to be an important habitat range for parrotfish in Bonaire.

This student research was retrieved from Physis: Journal of Marine Science VI (Fall 2009)19: 1-6 from CIEE Bonaire.

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