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Competitive hierarchies among three species of juvenile coral reef fishes

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journal contribution
posted on 28.09.2020 by S Geange, A Stier, Jeffrey Shima
Interspecific competition is often asymmetric, and it can limit the spatial distributions of competitively inferior species within a community. When asymmetric competition involves 2 or more component species, the ranking of species' competitive abilities may form competitive hierarchies (all species of higher rank out-compete all species of lower rank) or competitive networks (at least 1 species of lower rank out-competes =1 species of higher rank). Expectations of resource monopolization and patterns of distribution and abundance among species in competitive networks are expected to differ from those in competitive hierarchies. We conducted a field experiment to evaluate the relative competitive abilities of juveniles of 3 closely related species of reef fish (bird wrasse Gomphosus varius, fivestripe wrasse Thalassoma quinquevittatum and the sixbar wrasse T. hardwicke) on Moorea, French Polynesia. We controlled for intrinsic variation in survivorship among species and found that competition among these 3 species was highly asymmetric, resulting in a simple competitive hierarchy (sequence of competitive ability from superior to inferior competitors): fivestripe wrasse > bird wrasse > sixbar wrasse. We surveyed densities of the 3 reef fish species on 55 patch reefs and observed significant negative spatial covariation between superior and inferior competitors, consistent with competitive hierarchies that limit the spatial distributions of the inferior species (sixbar wrasse). Our work demonstrates that intense asymmetric competition and the formation of competitive hierarchies may be an important determinant of resource monopolization and patterns of distribution and abundance in reef fishes. © Inter-Research 2013.

History

Preferred citation

Geange, S., Stier, A. & Shima, J. (2013). Competitive hierarchies among three species of juvenile coral reef fishes. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 472, 239-248. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps10015

Journal title

Marine Ecology Progress Series

Volume

472

Publication date

01/01/2013

Pagination

239-248

Publisher

Inter-Research Science Center

Publication status

Published

Contribution type

Article

ISSN

0171-8630

eISSN

1616-1599

Language

en

Exports