Intensity of herbivory on kelp by fish and sea urchins differs between inshore and offshore reefs.

M.A. Vanderklift, P.S. Lavery, Kris Waddington

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    50 Citations (Scopus)


    Interactions between water motion, primary productivity, and herbivory are complex.Rates of grazing by fish on tropical coral reefs and by sea urchins on temperate rocky reefs areusually high, but can be low in areas of extreme water motion. Some herbivores can switch betweenmobile (grazing) and sedentary (drift-feeding) behaviours, and this can be influenced by watermotion. We compared the relative consumption of the kelp Ecklonia radiata at rocky reefs in westernAustralia with different wave exposures (inshore versus offshore). No herbivory was recorded offshore,suggesting that wave exposure might inhibit herbivory. We also compared grazing by fish andsea urchins, and grazing versus drift-feeding pathways. Grazing by fish and sea urchins was low,except at one inshore reef where grazing by fish was intense. In contrast, drift-feeding by sea urchinswas recorded at all inshore reefs, suggesting that this is a ubiquitous behaviour in the region. Wemeasured productivity of E. radiata to determine if spatial patterns in rates of herbivory matchedthose of productivity. Productivity of E. radiata was higher on offshore reefs at one location. Theobserved difference in consumption between inshore and offshore reefs at both locations suggeststhat consumption is not limited by productivity, but by exposure. Further, the high productivity offshorecombined with low rates of herbivory suggest that offshore reefs might be a source of kelp thatsubsidises other habitats.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)203-211
    JournalMarine Ecology Progress Series
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


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