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Relationships between structural complexity, coral traits, and reef fish assemblages

Darling, ES, Graham, NAJ, Januchowski-Hartley, FA, Nash, KL ORCID: 0000-0003-0976-3197, Pratchett, MS and Wilson, SK 2017 , 'Relationships between structural complexity, coral traits, and reef fish assemblages' , Coral Reefs, vol. 36, no. 2 , pp. 561-575 , doi: 10.1007/s00338-017-1539-z.

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With the ongoing loss of coral cover and theassociated flattening of reef architecture, understanding thelinks between coral habitat and reef fishes is of criticalimportance. Here, we investigate whether considering coraltraits and functional diversity provides new insights intothe relationship between structural complexity and reef fishcommunities, and whether coral traits and communitycomposition can predict structural complexity. Across 157sites in Seychelles, Maldives, the Chagos Archipelago, andAustralia’s Great Barrier Reef, we find that structuralcomplexity and reef zone are the strongest and most consistentpredictors of reef fish abundance, biomass, speciesrichness, and trophic structure. However, coral traits,diversity, and life histories provided additional predictivepower for models of reef fish assemblages, and were keydrivers of structural complexity. Our findings highlight thatreef complexity relies on living corals—with differenttraits and life histories—continuing to build carbonateskeletons, and that these nuanced relationships betweencoral assemblages and habitat complexity can affect thestructure of reef fish assemblages. Seascape-level estimatesof structural complexity are rapid and cost effective withimportant implications for the structure and function of fishassemblages, and should be incorporated into monitoringprograms.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Darling, ES and Graham, NAJ and Januchowski-Hartley, FA and Nash, KL and Pratchett, MS and Wilson, SK
Keywords: Habitat diversity, species traits, functional ecology, reef architecture, Scleractinian corals, coral reef fish
Journal or Publication Title: Coral Reefs
Publisher: Springer-Verlag
ISSN: 0722-4028
DOI / ID Number: 10.1007/s00338-017-1539-z
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Copyright 2017 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg

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