Parrotfish abundance and corallivory at the Yellow Sub dive site in Bonaire, Dutch Caribbean
Parrotfish are some of the most widely recognized reef fish in the world. They occupy almost every tropical reef on the planet, and through their eating behavior, dramatically transform ecosystems. Parrotfish mainly consume macroalgae, but have been known to consume coral and therefore have a potentially negative impact on coral fitness. Although parrotfish corallivory is a well-known behavior, little is known about why it occurs, and how severe the effects are on marine ecosystems. The purpose of this experiment was to quantify the amount of coral colonies that parrotfish feed on at the Yellow Sub dive site in Bonaire Dutch Caribbean. By collecting data on the extent of parrotfish corallivory, there will be a larger body of knowledge from which questions about parrotfish grazing can be answered. To carry out this experiment, 30 meter transect tapes placed at depths of nine and 15 meters were used to first catalogue all of the coral by species, size, and if it had been bitten by parrotfish. Next three transect swims were used to categorize all parrotfish by size, species, and any special behavior (i.e. coral consumption). Results showed a higher abundance of parrotfish in transects at nine meters than at 15 meters. Parrotfish preferred the coral species Montastraea annularis, but there was no relationship between the presence of parrotfish and the percentage of coral bitten.
This student research was retrieved from Physis: Journal of Marine Science XII (Fall 2012)19: 16-21 from CIEE Bonaire.