Feeding macroecology of territorial damselfishes: (Perciformes: Pomacentridae)

Photo credit: JP Krajewski


The present study provides the first analysis of the feeding macroecology of territorial damselfishes (Perciformes: Pomacentridae), a circumtropical family whose feeding and behavioral activities are important in structuring tropical and subtropical reef benthic communities. The analyses were conducted from data collected by the authors and from the literature. A strong positive correlation was observed between bite rates and sea surface temperature (SST) for the genus Stegastes. A negative correlation was found between bite rates and mean body size for the genera Stegastes and Pomacentrus, but this relationship was not significant when all territorial pomacentrids were analyzed together. A negative correlation between body size and SST was observed for the whole group and for the genera Stegastes, and Pomacentrus. No relationship was found between territory size and feeding rates. Principal Components Analysis showed that differences in feeding rates accounted for most of the variability in the data. It also suggested that body size may be important in characterizing the different genera. In general, tropical species are smaller and have higher bite rates than subtropical ones. This study extended the validity of Bergmann’s rule, which states that larger species or larger individuals within species occur towards higher latitudes and/or lower temperatures, for an important group of reef fishes. The identification of large-scale, robust ecological patterns in the feeding ecology of pomacentrid fishes may establish a foundation for predicting large-scale changes in reef fish assemblages with expected future changes in global SST.

Marine Biology, 156: 289–299.