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Latitudinal gradients in Atlantic reef fish communities: trophic structure and spatial use patterns


Trophic strategies and spatial use habits were investigated in reef fish communities. The results supported the hypothesis of differential use of food resources among tropical and higher latitude reef fishes, i.e. the number of species and relative abundance of fishes relying on relatively low-quality food significantly decreased from tropical to temperate latitudes. The species: genus ratio of low-quality food consumers increased toward the tropics, and was higher than the overall ratio considering all fishes in the assemblages. This supports the view that higher speciation rates occurred among this guild of fishes in warm waters. It was also demonstrated that density of herbivorous fishes (the dominant group relying on low-quality food resources) in the western Atlantic decreased from tropical to temperate latitudes. Spatial use and mobility varied with latitude and consequently reef type and complexity. Fishes with small-size home ranges predominated on tropical coral reefs. (C) 2004 The Fisheries Society of the British Isles.

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