|Determinants of habitat association in a sympatric clade of marine fishes|In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
|Authors|| || Top |
- Wellenreuther, M.
- Clements, K.D.
Triplefin fishes reach their greatest diversity in New Zealand with 26 endemic species, and habitat diversification has been implicated as a key factor in the divergence of this group. Despite this, it is unknown whether species-specific habitat patterns in these sympatric fishes are established by passive processes (e.g. differential mortality) or by habitat selection during settlement. We investigate this question by comparing the habitat associations of new recruits with those of conspecific adults in five species. In addition, the amount of variation in habitat use of conspecific recruits and adults was calculated to identify ontogenetic shifts in habitat association. The results indicated that while there were some differences between recruit and adult habitats, these differences were small in magnitude and habitat use of new recruits was similar to that of adult conspecifics. This finding was further supported by the small difference in variation of habitat use between conspecific recruits and adults. The study suggests that new recruits are actively involved in the selection of habitats at settlement and maintain the use of these throughout demersal life. Habitat use in these territorial species has a large influence on mate choice, thus habitat selection by new recruits would provide a powerful mechanism for pre-zygotic isolation between individuals with different habitat preferences. Together these findings support the notion that habitat diversification has been a major component in the radiation of this sympatric group.