Marine & Environmental Sciences Faculty Articles

Document Type


Publication Title

PLoS One



Publication Date



Analysis of variance, Coral reefs, Death rates, Fishes, Habitats, Neostriatum, Predation, Reefs


During early demersal ontogeny, many marine fishes display complex habitat-use patterns. Grunts of the speciose genus Haemulon are among the most abundant fishes on western North Atlantic coral reefs, with most species settling to shallow habitats (≤12 m). To gain understanding into cross-shelf distributional patterns exhibited by newly settled stages of grunts (<2 cm total length), we examined: 1) depth-specific distributions of congeners at settlement among sites at 8 m, 12 m, and 21 m, and 2) depth-variable predation pressure on newly settled individuals (species pooled). Of the six species identified from collections of newly settled specimens (n = 2125), Haemulon aurolineatum (tomtate), H. flavolineatum(French grunt), and H. striatum (striped grunt) comprised 98% of the total abundance; with the first two species present at all sites. Prevalence of H. aurolineatum and H. flavolineatumdecreased substantially from the 8-m site to the two deeper sites. In contrast, H. striatum was absent from the 8-m site and exhibited its highest frequency at the 21-m site. Comparison of newly settled grunt delta density for all species on caged (predator exclusion) and control artificial reefs at the shallowest site (8-m) revealed no difference, while the 12-m and 21-m sites exhibited significantly greater delta densities on the caged treatment. This result, along with significantly higher abundances of co-occurring piscivorous fishes at the deeper sites, indicated lower predation pressure at the 8-m site. This study suggests habitat-use patterns of newly settled stages of some coral reef fishes that undergo ontogenetic shifts are a function of depth-variable predation pressure while, for at least one deeper-water species, proximity to adult habitat appears to be an important factor affecting settlement distribution.






12 e50897

First Page


Last Page



©2012 Jordan et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Peer Reviewed

Find in your library