Bellwood, David; Fulton, Christopher
We describe a mechanistic basis for maintaining an alternative degraded stable state on coral reefs: sediment-laden algal turfs. Using remote underwater video cameras we quantified rates of herbivory by coral reef fishes on epilithic algal turfs with natural and experimentally reduced sediment loads. Removal of sediment increased overall fish feeding rates 3.8-fold, and resulted in a decrease in mean algal turf length of 64% within 4 h. After 4 h, sediment accumulated in the treatment plots,...[Show more]
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