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The ecology of cleaning stations used by Manta alfredi in Ningaloo reef, Western Australia

Ashe, Hannah (2016) The ecology of cleaning stations used by Manta alfredi in Ningaloo reef, Western Australia. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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Abstract

Cleaning stations, where fish are cleaned of their parasites, are one of the many microhabitats found within reef systems. This study was a preliminary evaluation of the ecology of three cleaning stations in Bateman Bay, Western Australia. Bateman Bay is located just north of Coral Bay and home to a diverse range of species, notably the resident Reef Manta Ray (Manta alfredi). To do this, all fish species within the selected cleaning stations were identified, quantified and their behaviours recorded through video analysis. Over five months, a total of 144 different species were identified from 37 families, totalling over 3,800 individuals. Species richness and diversity significantly differed among sites (p < 0.05). Behaviours of species also showed trends of each cleaning station being used for different purposes. Feeding was most commonly seen at the Point Maud South (PMS) station, while the Point Maud North (PMN) station experienced the most cleaning events. The third site, the Oyster Bridge (OB) station experienced many individuals roaming around the area. However, 46 species were seen at all three locations, detecting similarities in species composition to some degree at each cleaning station; e.g. M. alfredi was cleaned at each location. From this information, motives for site preference cannot be conclusively determined; however results show environmental factors such as food availability may influence species abundance, composition and behaviours at cleaning stations.

Publication Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Supervisor: van Keulen, Mike
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/35150
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