Not all seaweed-eating fish are created equal. Reef fish near the islands of Fiji eat seaweed that is toxic to coral, helping maintain a healthy reef system. But some species of fish limit their grazing to only one type of seaweed. Herbivorous fish diversity is the coral’s best insurance for keeping different varieties of harmful algae in check.
Science Bulletins is a production of the National Center for Science Literacy, Education, and Technology (NCSLET), part of the Department of Education at the American Museum of Natural History.
Ecological Society of America: Consumer diversity interacts with prey defenses to drive ecosystem function
The ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
International Union for Conservation of Nature: Monitoring Functional Groups of Herbivorous Reef Fishes as Indicators of Coral Reef Resilience
Wildlife Conservation Society: Fiji’s Waters
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute: Impacts of Macroalgae on Ecosystems
World Wildlife Fund, South Pacific: The Great Sea Reef
NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program
Kahekili Herbivore Fisheries Management Area
AMNH: Milstein Hall of Ocean Life
Reef Resilience: Herbivory