Seagrass beds and mangroves as potential nurseries for the threatened Indo-Pacific humphead wrasse, Cheilinus undulatus and Caribbean rainbow parrotfish, Scarus guacamaia

The importance of seagrass beds and mangroves as a juvenile habitat as opposed to other shallow water habitat types is investigated using a single sampling method on four islands in the western Indian Ocean for Cheilinus undulatus, and on one island in the southern Caribbean Sea (Aruba) for Scarus guacamaia. Both species occur on the Red list of threatened species. Juveniles of Cheilinus undulatus were predominantly found on seagrass beds while adults were limited to the coral reef. The presence of seagrass beds resulted in significantly higher densities of the species on coral reefs in front of these habitats, indicating the importance of seagrass beds as a juvenile habitat. For Scarus guacamaia, juveniles were exclusively observed in mangroves while adults only occurred on the coral reef. Adult S. guacamaia occurred on all coral reefs along the sheltered coast of the island containing mangroves, but no relationship with distance to mangroves was observed. This could indicate the importance of mangroves for the occurrence of adults of this species on the scale of an entire island.

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