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Microhabitats of sharknose goby (Elacatinus evelynae) cleaning stations and their links with cleaning behaviour

Whittey, Kathryn E., Dunkley, Katie, Young, Grace C., Cable, Jo and Perkins, Sarah E. 2021. Microhabitats of sharknose goby (Elacatinus evelynae) cleaning stations and their links with cleaning behaviour. Coral Reefs 40 , pp. 1069-1080. 10.1007/s00338-021-02105-x

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Abstract

Coral reefs are renowned for the complexity of their habitat structures and their resulting ability to host more species per unit area than any another marine ecosystem. Dedicated cleaner fish, which acquire all their food resources through client interactions, rely on both the habitat structures (by using topological cleaning stations) and the wide diversity of fish species available on coral reefs, to function. As a result of natural and anthropogenic threats, coral reef habitat structures and their complexity are being lost—despite this threat it is unclear how important reef geometry is to key ecological interactions, like cleaning. Using an established Caribbean reef study site, three-dimensional constructions of discrete coral heads were used to investigate how fine-scale structural complexity traits (structural complexity—measured by rugosity and vector dispersion—height, volume, surface area, percentage live coral cover and refuge availability) relate to cleaner occupancy, abundance and their cleaning interactions with clients. Coral height was a particularly important trait for cleaning, correlating with both the occurrence of cleaning stations on a reef, and with increased cleaning durations and reduced cleaning frequencies/rates. Cleaning stations were also more structurally complex than non-cleaning coral heads, and the increased availability of uneven surfaces (creating cracks and crevices) and refuge availability linked with increased cleaning durations/rates. By understanding habitat features important to cleaner fish on a typical Caribbean fringing reef, we can gain a better understanding of how important reef geometry might be for governing the occurrence and dynamics of such mutualisms.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Additional Information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
Publisher: Springer Verlag (Germany)
ISSN: 0722-4028
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 5 May 2021
Date of Acceptance: 19 April 2021
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 01:15
URI: http://orca.cardiff.ac.uk/id/eprint/140932

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