Abundance, distribution and feeding patterns of a temperate reef fish in subtidal environments of the Chilean coast: the importance of understory algal turf
DescriptionArtículo de publicación ISI
MetadataShow full item record
Cheilodactylus variegatus is an abundant carnivorous demersal reef fish that lives in the shallow subtidal of the north-central Chilean coast. Characteristically, these environments are dominated by kelp forests of Lessonia trabeculata. This species preys on a great variety of benthic invertebrates, and shows particularly high consumption rates on amphipod crustaceans. In our study, two widely separated populations of C. variegatus were considered (central and northern Chile). Individuals that form part of these populations show considerable differences in their distribution, abundance and trophic behavior. In the northern zone, the species is abundant and both juveniles and adults are distributed along the whole bathymetric gradient. This contrasts with populations found in central Chile, which are more sparse and lack juveniles. The distribution and abundance patterns appear to be influenced mainly by the great abundance of diverse understory macroalgae in the northern subtidal, which harbors a large number of invertebrates, especially amphipods. In contrast, the understory algal abundance of the central zone is much lower, and does not show a direct relationship with the lesser abundance of amphipods. In general, C. variegatus maintains a high consumption rate on amphipods throughout its ontogeny but it includes several other prey items in later ontogenetic stages. The different understory algal assemblages, and their associated fauna, are likely to be the main factors influencing the patterns of abundance and distribution observed between these two geographically distinct fish populations.