Population ecology of the rusty parrotfish Scarus ferrugineus, a dominant grazer on a seasonal coral reef

Yohannes Afeworki

Research output: ThesisThesis fully internal (DIV)

1482 Downloads (Pure)


Tropical seas under the influence of the Asian monsoon show significant seasonality in rainfall, temperature and irradiance. The influence of these changes on coral reef fish communities is generally considered small but has rarely been studied. The extreme summer temperatures in this region are the main cause of seasonal changes in the composition and biomass of benthic algae, inducing changes in the vertical distribution of grazing fishes. More specifically, this thesis investigates the effects of seasonality on the population ecology of a common grazer, the rusty parrotfish (Scarus ferrugineus), on a southern Red Sea reef. Seasonal changes in the availability of turf algae, its preferred food type, lead to significant changes in intake rates. Higher food intake in spring results in peak body condition, liver mass and growth rate in early summer. Unexpectedly, reproduction is more intense during the cool winter season. In this regard S. ferrugineus behaves like a capital breeder: it utilizes energy stored during the warmer parts of the year to fuel reproduction in the cool season. Feeding rate in large males slows down in late summer during the hottest time of year. The larger bodied males experience higher natural mortalities than females. These observations suggest that the high summer temperatures (34°C) are close to the critical temperatures of the largest individuals of S. ferrugineus. High male mortality sets an upper age limit for sex change and as a result, females reaching 4 years and beyond do not gain in fitness by changing to male.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Groningen
  • Videler, Johannes, Supervisor
  • Bruggemann, Johann, Supervisor
Award date9-May-2014
Place of Publication[S.l.]
Print ISBNs978-90-367-6731-6
Electronic ISBNs978-90-367-6730-9
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Cite this