Ontogenetic shifts in habitat preferences in the three-spot damselfish, Stegasees planifions (Cuvier), in Roatan Island, Honduras

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45 Scopus citations

Abstract

Habitat preferences have been described for different stages of the life cycle of reef fishes. The present study evaluates the effects that ontogenetic shifts in microhabitat preferences may have in the determination of the non-overlapping spatial distribution of the adults and juveniles of Stegastes planifrons (Cuvier) in a section of the Honduras Barrier Reef. A preliminary survey revealed that not only was Stegastes planifrons associated with a specific coral type, Agaricia tenuifolia (Dana), but also that the age classes were associated with a specific quality of this coral type (dead or living). Translocation experiments showed that adults exhibit a preference for living foliose coral heads, whereas juveniles exhibit a preference for dead foliose coral heads. These results suggest that ontogenetic shifts in habitat preferences can influence the spatial distribution of adults and juveniles. Since three-spot damselfish actively defend their territories against conspecifics, differential habitat preferences would serve as a mechanism to reduce competition for space between adults and juveniles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-81
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology
Volume180
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 8 1994
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Damselfish distribution
  • Intraspecific competition
  • Microhabitat preference
  • Ontogenetic habitat shift
  • Roatan Island
  • Topographical deception
  • Translocation experiment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology

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