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Chemistry of the consumption and excretion of the bumphead parrotfish (Bolbometopon muricatum), a coral reef mega-consumer

Bolbometopon muricatum pictured delivering a bite upon a living scleractinian coral colony. Photograph credit D. McCauley
Mar 5 2019

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E. Grace Goldberg, Ted K. Raa, Paul Desalles, Amy A. Briggs, Robert B. Dunbar, Frank J. Millero, Ryan J. Woosley, Hillary S. Young, Fiorenza Micheli, Douglas J. Mccauley


Bolbometopon  muricatumare  ecologically unique mega-consumers in coral reef ecosystems. They primarily divide their dietary intake between living scleractinian corals and coral rock, a substrate richly colonized by non-coral biota. Here we examine how the chemical,structural, and energetic content of these two main classes of forage material may influence B . muricatum feeding behavior and selectivity. We then also examine nutrient content, pH, and alkalinity of the carbonate-rich feces of B.muricatum as a step toward understanding how B. muricatum defecation could affect reef nutrient dynamics and localized seawater chemistry. Our results suggest that by most measures, coral rock constitutes a richer food source.