The role of turtles as coral reef macroherbivores

Handle URI:
http://hdl.handle.net/10754/325306
Title:
The role of turtles as coral reef macroherbivores
Authors:
Goatley, Christopher H. R.; Hoey, Andrew; Bellwood, David R.
Abstract:
Herbivory is widely accepted as a vital function on coral reefs. To date, the majority of studies examining herbivory in coral reef environments have focused on the roles of fishes and/or urchins, with relatively few studies considering the potential role of macroherbivores in reef processes. Here, we introduce evidence that highlights the potential role of marine turtles as herbivores on coral reefs. While conducting experimental habitat manipulations to assess the roles of herbivorous reef fishes we observed green turtles (Chelonia mydas) and hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) showing responses that were remarkably similar to those of herbivorous fishes. Reducing the sediment load of the epilithic algal matrix on a coral reef resulted in a forty-fold increase in grazing by green turtles. Hawksbill turtles were also observed to browse transplanted thalli of the macroalga Sargassum swartzii in a coral reef environment. These responses not only show strong parallels to herbivorous reef fishes, but also highlight that marine turtles actively, and intentionally, remove algae from coral reefs. When considering the size and potential historical abundance of marine turtles we suggest that these potentially valuable herbivores may have been lost from many coral reefs before their true importance was understood. © 2012 Goatley et al.
KAUST Department:
Red Sea Research Center (RSRC)
Citation:
Goatley CHR, Hoey AS, Bellwood DR (2012) The Role of Turtles as Coral Reef Macroherbivores. PLoS ONE 7: e39979. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0039979.
Publisher:
Public Library of Science (PLoS)
Journal:
PLoS ONE
Issue Date:
29-Jun-2012
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0039979
PubMed ID:
22768189
PubMed Central ID:
PMC3386948
Type:
Article
ISSN:
19326203
Appears in Collections:
Articles; Red Sea Research Center (RSRC)

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.contributor.authorGoatley, Christopher H. R.en
dc.contributor.authorHoey, Andrewen
dc.contributor.authorBellwood, David R.en
dc.date.accessioned2014-08-27T09:46:10Z-
dc.date.available2014-08-27T09:46:10Z-
dc.date.issued2012-06-29en
dc.identifier.citationGoatley CHR, Hoey AS, Bellwood DR (2012) The Role of Turtles as Coral Reef Macroherbivores. PLoS ONE 7: e39979. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0039979.en
dc.identifier.issn19326203en
dc.identifier.pmid22768189en
dc.identifier.doi10.1371/journal.pone.0039979en
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10754/325306en
dc.description.abstractHerbivory is widely accepted as a vital function on coral reefs. To date, the majority of studies examining herbivory in coral reef environments have focused on the roles of fishes and/or urchins, with relatively few studies considering the potential role of macroherbivores in reef processes. Here, we introduce evidence that highlights the potential role of marine turtles as herbivores on coral reefs. While conducting experimental habitat manipulations to assess the roles of herbivorous reef fishes we observed green turtles (Chelonia mydas) and hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) showing responses that were remarkably similar to those of herbivorous fishes. Reducing the sediment load of the epilithic algal matrix on a coral reef resulted in a forty-fold increase in grazing by green turtles. Hawksbill turtles were also observed to browse transplanted thalli of the macroalga Sargassum swartzii in a coral reef environment. These responses not only show strong parallels to herbivorous reef fishes, but also highlight that marine turtles actively, and intentionally, remove algae from coral reefs. When considering the size and potential historical abundance of marine turtles we suggest that these potentially valuable herbivores may have been lost from many coral reefs before their true importance was understood. © 2012 Goatley et al.en
dc.language.isoenen
dc.publisherPublic Library of Science (PLoS)en
dc.rightsGoatley 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.en
dc.rightsArchived with thanks to PLoS ONEen
dc.subjectalgaen
dc.subjectcoral reefen
dc.subjectfishen
dc.subjectgrazingen
dc.subjectgreen turtleen
dc.subjecthawksbill turtleen
dc.subjectherbivoreen
dc.subjectmacroherbivoreen
dc.subjectmarine environmenten
dc.subjectSargassumen
dc.subjectSargassum swartziien
dc.subjectsedimenten
dc.subjectspecies habitaten
dc.subjectturtleen
dc.subjectAustraliaen
dc.subjectCoral Reefsen
dc.subjectGeographyen
dc.subjectGeologic Sedimentsen
dc.subjectHerbivoryen
dc.subjectSargassumen
dc.subjectSeaweeden
dc.subjectTurtlesen
dc.subjectalgaeen
dc.subjectAnthozoaen
dc.subjectChelonia mydasen
dc.subjectCheloniidaeen
dc.subjectEretmochelys imbricataen
dc.subjectPiscesen
dc.subjectSargassum swartziien
dc.subjectTestudinesen
dc.titleThe role of turtles as coral reef macroherbivoresen
dc.typeArticleen
dc.contributor.departmentRed Sea Research Center (RSRC)en
dc.identifier.journalPLoS ONEen
dc.identifier.pmcidPMC3386948en
dc.eprint.versionPublisher's Version/PDFen
dc.contributor.institutionAustralian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, School of Marine and Tropical Biology, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD, Australiaen
dc.contributor.affiliationKing Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST)en
kaust.authorHoey, Andrewen

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