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Impact of micropredatory gnathiid isopods on young coral reef fishes

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posted on 2023-05-16, 22:09 authored by Grutter, AS, Pickering, JL, McCallum, HI, McCormick, MI
The ecological role of parasites in the early life-history stages of coral reef fish, and whether this varies between fish with and without a pelagic phase, was investigated. The susceptibility to, and effect of reef-based micropredatory gnathiid isopods on larval, recently settled, and juvenile fishes was tested using two damselfishes (Pomacentridae): Neopomacentrus azysron, which has pelagic larvae, and Acanthochromis polyacanthus, which does not. When larval and recently settled stages of N. azysron and very young A. polyacanthus juveniles (smaller than larval N. azysron) were exposed to one or three gnathiids, the proportion of infections did not vary significantly among the three host types or between the number of gnathiids to which the fish were exposed. The overall infection was 35%. Mortality, however, differed among the three gnathiid-exposed host types with most deaths occurring in larval N. azysron; no mortalities occurred for recently settled N. azysron exposed to one or three gnathiids, and A. polyacanthus exposed to one gnathiid. Mortality did not differ significantly between larval N. azysron and A. polyacanthus juveniles, failing to provide support for the hypothesis that reef-based A. polyacanthus juveniles are better adapted to gnathiid attack than fish with a pelagic phase. The study suggests that settling on the reef exposes young fish to potentially deadly micropredators. This supports the idea that the pelagic phase may allow young fish to avoid reef-based parasites. © 2008 Springer-Verlag.


Publication title

Coral Reefs








School of Natural Sciences



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Socio-economic Objectives

Marine biodiversity

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