Parrotfishes (f. Labridae) are a unique and ubiquitous group of herbivorous reef fishes. We compared the distribution and ecosystem function (grazing and erosion) of parrotfishes across 75 reefs in Arabia. Our results revealed marked regional differences in the abundance, and taxonomic and functional composition of parrotfishes between the Red Sea, Arabian Sea, and Arabian Gulf. High densities and diversity of parrotfishes, and high rates of grazing (210% year) and erosion (1.57 kg m year) characterised Red Sea reefs. Despite Arabian Sea and Red Sea reefs having broadly comparable abundances of parrotfishes, estimates of grazing (150% year) and erosion (0.43 kg m year) were markedly lower in the Arabian Sea. Parrotfishes were extremely rare within the southern Arabian Gulf, and as such rates of grazing and erosion were negligible. This regional variation in abundance and functional composition of parrotfishes appears to be related to local environmental conditions.
Bibliographical noteKAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: We thank M McCormick, A Bauman, Environment Agency of Abu Dhabi, and Fujeirah Municipality for field and/or logistic support. Comments from an anonymous reviewer improved the manuscript. Financial support was provided by the Australian Research Council (ASH, MSP), King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (ASH, MLB), the United Nations University International Network on Water, Environment and Health (DAF), and New York University Abu Dhabi Institute (JB).