Macroalgae canopies are common in tropical coastlines, and can be feeding grounds for coral reef fishes. We investigated whether fish transfer algal material from Sargassum-dominated macroalgae habitats to coral reefs by collecting gut contents of two herbivorous fish species (Naso elegans and N. unicornis) from coral reefs in the central Red Sea. On inshore reefs close to macroalgae canopies, Sargassum accounted for up to 41% of these species’ gut contents while almost no Sargassum was found in the stomachs of fish on offshore reefs farther from macroalgae canopies. Using consumption and excretion rates from literature, we estimate that these fish consume up to 6.0 mmol C/m2 reef/day and excrete up to 10.8 μmol N/m2 reef/day and 1.0 μmol P/m2 reef/day across inshore reefs as a result of Sargassum consumption. Examining fish-mediated connections between habitats illuminates the role of fish as a vector of nutrition to nutrient-poor coral reefs.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was funded by the Red Sea Research Center at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology .
© 2023 The Authors
- Coastal zone
- Consumer-mediated nutrient dynamics
- Habitat connectivity
- Naso elegans
- Naso unicornis
- Submerged aquatic vegetation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Aquatic Science