Gaya butterfly fish project

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Reef habitat partitioning in Chaetodontidae

Figure 1: Cluster dendrogram of butterfly fish feeding ecology
Figure 2: Feeding guilds of 5 butterfly fish species
Figure 3: Feeding guilds of 5 additional butterfly fish species

Many similar species within the same habitat exhibit specialization in feeding preference to avoid direct competition. The reefs within Tengku Abdul Rahman Marine Protected Area, Sabah, Malaysia are home to several members within the Family Chaetodontidae (butterflyfishes) and it is expected that they prefer prey found on different substrates. This would lead to habitat partitioning of closely related fish species across the reef habitat. Partitioning was measured at two sites within the Marine Protected Area by recording each substrate associated with pecking behavior. Individuals belonging to 10 species were observed for 5 minutes and all substrate types where pecking behavior was observed were recorded. Substrates were categorized into 9 major types. Data was analyzed with histograms and a cluster dendrogram (see Figure 1). The most abundant fish species traveled to all major substrate types within the reef(see Figure 2). Conversely, the other 9 species showed strong association with particular substrates while feeding. (see Figure 3)This variation in feeding preference of the Chaetodontid species in the Tengku Abdul Rahman Marine Protected Area indicated that habitat partitioning occurs.