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Coral reef mesopredators switch prey, shortening food chains, in response to habitat degradation

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Coral reef mesopredators switch prey, shortening food chains, in response to habitat degradation. / Hempson, Tessa N.; Graham, Nicholas A. J.; MacNeil, M. Aaron; Williamson, David H.; Jones, Geoffrey P.; Almany, Glenn R.

In: Ecology and Evolution, Vol. 7, No. 8, 04.2017, p. 2626-2635.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Harvard

Hempson, TN, Graham, NAJ, MacNeil, MA, Williamson, DH, Jones, GP & Almany, GR 2017, 'Coral reef mesopredators switch prey, shortening food chains, in response to habitat degradation', Ecology and Evolution, vol. 7, no. 8, pp. 2626-2635. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.2805

APA

Hempson, T. N., Graham, N. A. J., MacNeil, M. A., Williamson, D. H., Jones, G. P., & Almany, G. R. (2017). Coral reef mesopredators switch prey, shortening food chains, in response to habitat degradation. Ecology and Evolution, 7(8), 2626-2635. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.2805

Vancouver

Hempson TN, Graham NAJ, MacNeil MA, Williamson DH, Jones GP, Almany GR. Coral reef mesopredators switch prey, shortening food chains, in response to habitat degradation. Ecology and Evolution. 2017 Apr;7(8):2626-2635. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.2805

Author

Hempson, Tessa N. ; Graham, Nicholas A. J. ; MacNeil, M. Aaron ; Williamson, David H. ; Jones, Geoffrey P. ; Almany, Glenn R. / Coral reef mesopredators switch prey, shortening food chains, in response to habitat degradation. In: Ecology and Evolution. 2017 ; Vol. 7, No. 8. pp. 2626-2635.

Bibtex

@article{7b5e77b252be401db298e6fab0a9a37b,
title = "Coral reef mesopredators switch prey, shortening food chains, in response to habitat degradation",
abstract = "Diet specificity is likely to be the key predictor of a predator's vulnerability to changing habitat and prey conditions. Understanding the degree to which predatory coral reef fishes adjust or maintain prey choice, in response to declines in coral cover and changes in prey availability, is critical for predicting how they may respond to reef habitat degradation. Here, we use stable isotope analyses to characterize the trophic structure of predator-prey interactions on coral reefs of the Keppel Island Group on the southern Great Barrier Reef, Australia. These reefs, previously typified by exceptionally high coral cover, have recently lost much of their coral cover due to coral bleaching and frequent inundation by sediment-laden, freshwater flood plumes associated with increased rainfall patterns. Long-term monitoring of these reefs demonstrates that, as coral cover declined, there has been a decrease in prey biomass, and a shift in dominant prey species from pelagic plankton-feeding damselfishes to territorial benthic algal-feeding damselfishes, resulting in differences in the principal carbon pathways in the food web. Using isotopes, we tested whether this changing prey availability could be detected in the diet of a mesopredator (coral grouper, Plectropomus maculatus). The delta C-13 signature in grouper tissue in the Keppel Islands shifted from a more pelagic to a more benthic signal, demonstrating a change in carbon sources aligning with the change in prey availability due to habitat degradation. Grouper with a more benthic carbon signature were also feeding at a lower trophic level, indicating a shortening in food chains. Further, we found a decline in the coral grouper population accompanying a decrease in total available prey biomass. Thus, while the ability to adapt diets could ameliorate the short-term impacts of habitat degradation on mesopredators, long-term effects may negatively impact mesopredator populations and alter the trophic structure of coral reef food webs.",
keywords = "coral reefs, coral trout, food chains, habitat degradation, mesopredator, Plectropomus maculatus, prey switching, stable isotopes, STABLE-ISOTOPE SIGNATURES, GREAT-BARRIER-REEF, FISH COMMUNITIES, CLIMATE-CHANGE, PLECTROPOMUS-LEOPARDUS, TROPHIC INTERACTIONS, MARINE RESERVES, CARBON FLOW, BODY-SIZE, ECOSYSTEMS",
author = "Hempson, {Tessa N.} and Graham, {Nicholas A. J.} and MacNeil, {M. Aaron} and Williamson, {David H.} and Jones, {Geoffrey P.} and Almany, {Glenn R.}",
year = "2017",
month = apr
doi = "10.1002/ece3.2805",
language = "English",
volume = "7",
pages = "2626--2635",
journal = "Ecology and Evolution",
issn = "2045-7758",
publisher = "John Wiley and Sons Ltd",
number = "8",

}

RIS

TY - JOUR

T1 - Coral reef mesopredators switch prey, shortening food chains, in response to habitat degradation

AU - Hempson, Tessa N.

AU - Graham, Nicholas A. J.

AU - MacNeil, M. Aaron

AU - Williamson, David H.

AU - Jones, Geoffrey P.

AU - Almany, Glenn R.

PY - 2017/4

Y1 - 2017/4

N2 - Diet specificity is likely to be the key predictor of a predator's vulnerability to changing habitat and prey conditions. Understanding the degree to which predatory coral reef fishes adjust or maintain prey choice, in response to declines in coral cover and changes in prey availability, is critical for predicting how they may respond to reef habitat degradation. Here, we use stable isotope analyses to characterize the trophic structure of predator-prey interactions on coral reefs of the Keppel Island Group on the southern Great Barrier Reef, Australia. These reefs, previously typified by exceptionally high coral cover, have recently lost much of their coral cover due to coral bleaching and frequent inundation by sediment-laden, freshwater flood plumes associated with increased rainfall patterns. Long-term monitoring of these reefs demonstrates that, as coral cover declined, there has been a decrease in prey biomass, and a shift in dominant prey species from pelagic plankton-feeding damselfishes to territorial benthic algal-feeding damselfishes, resulting in differences in the principal carbon pathways in the food web. Using isotopes, we tested whether this changing prey availability could be detected in the diet of a mesopredator (coral grouper, Plectropomus maculatus). The delta C-13 signature in grouper tissue in the Keppel Islands shifted from a more pelagic to a more benthic signal, demonstrating a change in carbon sources aligning with the change in prey availability due to habitat degradation. Grouper with a more benthic carbon signature were also feeding at a lower trophic level, indicating a shortening in food chains. Further, we found a decline in the coral grouper population accompanying a decrease in total available prey biomass. Thus, while the ability to adapt diets could ameliorate the short-term impacts of habitat degradation on mesopredators, long-term effects may negatively impact mesopredator populations and alter the trophic structure of coral reef food webs.

AB - Diet specificity is likely to be the key predictor of a predator's vulnerability to changing habitat and prey conditions. Understanding the degree to which predatory coral reef fishes adjust or maintain prey choice, in response to declines in coral cover and changes in prey availability, is critical for predicting how they may respond to reef habitat degradation. Here, we use stable isotope analyses to characterize the trophic structure of predator-prey interactions on coral reefs of the Keppel Island Group on the southern Great Barrier Reef, Australia. These reefs, previously typified by exceptionally high coral cover, have recently lost much of their coral cover due to coral bleaching and frequent inundation by sediment-laden, freshwater flood plumes associated with increased rainfall patterns. Long-term monitoring of these reefs demonstrates that, as coral cover declined, there has been a decrease in prey biomass, and a shift in dominant prey species from pelagic plankton-feeding damselfishes to territorial benthic algal-feeding damselfishes, resulting in differences in the principal carbon pathways in the food web. Using isotopes, we tested whether this changing prey availability could be detected in the diet of a mesopredator (coral grouper, Plectropomus maculatus). The delta C-13 signature in grouper tissue in the Keppel Islands shifted from a more pelagic to a more benthic signal, demonstrating a change in carbon sources aligning with the change in prey availability due to habitat degradation. Grouper with a more benthic carbon signature were also feeding at a lower trophic level, indicating a shortening in food chains. Further, we found a decline in the coral grouper population accompanying a decrease in total available prey biomass. Thus, while the ability to adapt diets could ameliorate the short-term impacts of habitat degradation on mesopredators, long-term effects may negatively impact mesopredator populations and alter the trophic structure of coral reef food webs.

KW - coral reefs

KW - coral trout

KW - food chains

KW - habitat degradation

KW - mesopredator

KW - Plectropomus maculatus

KW - prey switching

KW - stable isotopes

KW - STABLE-ISOTOPE SIGNATURES

KW - GREAT-BARRIER-REEF

KW - FISH COMMUNITIES

KW - CLIMATE-CHANGE

KW - PLECTROPOMUS-LEOPARDUS

KW - TROPHIC INTERACTIONS

KW - MARINE RESERVES

KW - CARBON FLOW

KW - BODY-SIZE

KW - ECOSYSTEMS

U2 - 10.1002/ece3.2805

DO - 10.1002/ece3.2805

M3 - Journal article

VL - 7

SP - 2626

EP - 2635

JO - Ecology and Evolution

JF - Ecology and Evolution

SN - 2045-7758

IS - 8

ER -