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Key-macroherbivores: what is the importance of the Labridae and Acanthuridae fishes (Actinopterygii) for the dynamics and resilience of Abrolhos reef system?

Grant number: 14/19079-9
Support type:Regular Research Grants
Duration: July 01, 2015 - December 31, 2017
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Ecology
Principal Investigator:Fernando Zaniolo Gibran
Grantee:Fernando Zaniolo Gibran
Home Institution: Centro de Ciências Naturais e Humanas (CCNH). Universidade Federal do ABC (UFABC). Ministério da Educação (Brasil). Santo André , SP, Brazil
Assoc. researchers:Fabiano Lopes Thompson ; Guilherme Henrique Pereira Filho ; Gustavo Muniz Dias ; Rodrigo Leão de Moura ; Ronaldo Bastos Francini Filho


The Abrolhos Bank encompasses the main reef system from the South Atlantic Ocean, with a large diversity of corals and fishes, besides the largest rhodolith bed of the world. Herbivorous Acanthuridae and Labridae (Scarini tribe) fishes (surgeonfishes and parrotfishes, respectively) represent a Critical Functional Group on coral reefs, because their intense herbivory prevents corals to be overgrown by algae; they act in the balance between abundance of fast-growing non-building organisms (i.e. turf and fleshy macro algae) and relatively slow-growing reef building organisms (i.e. crustose coralline algae and scleractinian corals), playing a fundamental role for resilience and health of coral reefs. When such herbivores are absent or in low abundance the reef can undergo what is called "phase shift", facilitated by environmental stress or diseases caused by fungus and/or microorganisms, becoming dominated by macro algae and, thus, affecting the communities' structure and composition. Our goal is to evaluate the importance of the key-macroherbivores Acanthuridae and Labridae (Scarini) in the dynamics and resilience of Abrolhos reef system, using and integrative approach, considering: the ecology and feeding performance of the most common and abundant species; comparisons of the oral jaw apparatus (morphology and osteology), pharyngeal jaws and teeth, and dentitions, using an ecomorphological approach unknown for Brazilian reef fishes; culture and identification of the algal fragments from fecal pellets of the excavator parrotfish Scarus trispinosus (the more emblematic herbivore fish of Abrolhos); comparisons of digestive tubes and examination of symbiotic microbiota (also inedited); besides in situ experiment on the effect of sediment in feeding intensity of these macroherbivores. (AU)

Scientific publications
(References retrieved automatically from Web of Science and SciELO through information on FAPESP grants and their corresponding numbers as mentioned in the publications by the authors)
LELLYS, NICOLE TIBURCIO; DE MOURA, RODRIGO LEAO; BONALDO, ROBERTA MARTINI; FRANCINI-FILHO, RONALDO BASTOS; GIBRAN, FERNANDO ZANIOLO. Parrotfish functional morphology and bioerosion on SW Atlantic reefs. MARINE ECOLOGY-PROGRESS SERIES, v. 629, p. 149-163, OCT 24 2019. Web of Science Citations: 0.

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