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The role of Kyphosus spp. in reef ecosystems

It is well known that herbivory greatly influences the ecological processes that regulate the biodiversity in marine environments, and therefore evaluating herbivory becomes an essential step in understanding and managing the complexity of marine ecosystems. The herbivorous fish Kyphosids (gen. Kyphosus, fam. Kyphosidae,), commonly found in both temperate and tropical waters all over the world, are often recognized as a key group for many reef habitats. Regardless of the potential importance as algal consumers and the wide distribution of Kyphosids, basic ecological information about their diet, abundance, and distribution is scarce.  Researchers here, including PhD student Aldo Turco, explore the main habitat features and species morphology of the Kyphosid particular to Western Australian waters, in order to increase the basic ecological data of this herbivore and subsequently the ability to better understand their significance particular to ecosystem integrity within these important environments.

The data collection for this project will be undertaken in two distinct marine protected areas of Western Australia; Marmion Marine Park (Perth’s city marine reserve) and Ningaloo Marine Park (the iconic North West’s coral reef) in collaboration with the Department of Parks and Wildlife. The study involved the assessment of the relative abundance of each Kyphosus species together with a selection of biological and physical reef variables such as the cover percentage of algal species and the number of reef macro-structures; across different sites, levels of relief and distance from the shore.

Funding agency

ANZ Executors and Trustee Company Limited

Project duration

2012-2014

Researchers

Mr Aldo Turco (PhD Student)
Associate Professor Glenn Hyndes

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