Sterling Tebbett

Sterling Tebbett
James Cook University · Department of Marine Biology

About

59
Publications
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958
Citations

Publications

Publications (59)
Article
Algal turfs form a critical interface on coral reefs that interacts with several key ecosystem processes. While we know these turfs have a remarkable propensity to accumulate sediments, which can have a range of ecosystem impacts, their role as sinks for heavy metals remains largely unexamined. Here we quantified the concentration of 15 metals in a...
Article
Carbonate budgets dynamically balance production and loss of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) on coral reefs. To sustain or expand the coral reef framework, CaCO3 production by calcifying organisms must be higher than erosion. However, global climate change has been negatively impacting carbonate production, with bleaching events causing widespread coral...
Article
Full-text available
Coral reef fishes often exhibit specific or restricted depth distributions, but the factors (biotic or abiotic) that influence patterns of depth use are largely unknown. Given inherent biological gradients with depth (i.e. light, nutrients, habitat, temperature), it is expected that fishes may exploit certain depths within their environment to seek...
Article
Cyanobacterial mats are increasingly recognised as a symptom of coral reef change. However, the spatial distribution of cyanobacterial mats during coral bleaching has received limited attention. We explored cyanobacterial mat distribution during a bleaching event at Lizard Island and considered hydrodynamics as a potential modifier. During bleachin...
Article
Algal turfs trap and retain particulates, however, little is known about the relationship between particulate accumulation and taxonomic composition of algal turfs. We investigated how particulate mass related to algal turf structure (length and density) and community composition (taxonomic and functional) on two disparate reefs. Particulate mass w...
Article
Sediments in algal turfs can modify a wide variety of key ecological processes on coral reefs. While some larger reef fishes can remove these turf-bound sediments, the role of small, yet abundant, cryptobenthic fishes is currently unclear. To address this knowledge gap, we explored the extent to which the blenny, Ecsenius stictus, can shape sedimen...
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Full-text available
Surgeonfishes have had a long evolutionary history that has been closely linked with coral reef ecosystems. Today they are a key component of reef fish assemblages, playing a pivotal role in a variety of ecosystem functions. However, coral reefs are at the forefront of environmental change with a suite of stressors pushing these ecosystems towards...
Article
Algal turfs are the most abundant benthic covering on reefs in many shallow-water marine ecosystems. The particulates and sediments bound within algal turfs can influence a multitude of functions within these ecosystems. Despite the global abundance and importance of algal turfs, comparison of algal turf-bound sediments is problematic due to a lack...
Article
Coral reef decline has accelerated in the last two decades resulting in substantial research into the phenomenon of ‘phase shifts’ or ‘regime shifts’. However, the conclusions drawn from this research have been varied. Some of this variability may stem from methodological approaches, although the extent to which these factors have shaped our unders...
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Full-text available
Algal turfs are expected to increasingly dominate the benthos of coral reefs in the Anthropocene, becoming important sources of reef productivity. The sediments trapped within algal turfs are known to determine turf condition and influence a range of key ecological processes, particularly the feeding behavior of fishes. Yet, our understanding of th...
Article
The world's coral reef ecosystems are steadily being reconfigured by climate change. Lizard Island, on Australia's Great Barrier Reef, offers an opportunity to examine coral reef reassembly following disturbance, as this location has been impacted by consecutive tropical cyclones and consecutive coral bleaching events. Based on repeatedly monitorin...
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Full-text available
Thermal-stress events have changed the structure, biodiversity, and functioning of coral reefs. But how these disturbances affect the dynamics of individual coral colonies remains unclear. By tracking the fate of 1069 individual Acropora and massive Porites coral colonies for up to 5 years, spanning three bleaching events, we reveal striking genus-...
Article
There is a rich literature on coral reef sediments. However, this knowledge is spread among research fields, and the extent to which major sediment reservoirs and reservoir connecting processes have been quantified is unclear. We examined the literature to quantify where and how sediments have been measured on coral reefs and, thereby, identified c...
Article
Ecosystem functions underpin productivity and key services to humans, such as food provision. However, as the severity of environmental stressors intensifies, it is becoming increasingly unclear if, and to what extent, critical functions and services can be sustained. This issue is epitomised on coral reefs, an ecosystem at the forefront of environ...
Article
Algal turfs are an abundant and highly productive component of coral reef ecosystems. However, our understanding of the drivers that shape algal turf productivity across studies and among reefs is limited. Based on published studies we considered how different factors may shape turf productivity and turnover rates. Of the factors considered, depth...
Article
The presence of key organisms is frequently associated with the delivery of specific ecosystem functions. Areas with such organisms are therefore often considered to have greater levels of these functions. While this assumption has been the backbone of coral reef ecosystem-based management approaches for decades, we currently have only a limited un...
Article
In complex, diverse ecosystems, one is faced with an exceptionally challenging decision: which species to examine first and why? This raises the question: Is there evidence of subconscious biases in study species selection? Likewise, is there evidence of this bias in selecting methods, locations, and times? We addressed these questions by surveying...
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Full-text available
Distinct zonation of community assemblages among habitats is a ubiquitous feature of coral reefs. The distribution of roving herbivorous fishes (parrotfishes, surgeonfishes and rabbitfishes) is a particularly clear example, with the abundance of these fishes generally peaking in shallow-water, high-energy habitats, regardless of the biogeographic r...
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Mutualisms play a critical role in ecological communities; however, the importance and prevalence of mutualistic associations can be modified by external stressors. On coral reefs, elevated sediment deposition can be a major stressor reducing the health of corals and reef resilience. Here, we investigated the influence of severe sedimentation on th...
Article
Farming damselfishes are well known for shaping benthic communities on reefs, in terms of both cultivating algae and increasing productivity. However, their capacity to shape relationships between algal turfs, detritus and sediments remains largely unknown, despite the importance of such relationships on reefs. We therefore examined the relationshi...
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Full-text available
Coral reef ecosystems are at the forefront of biodiversity loss and climate change-mediated transformations. This is expected to have profound consequences for the functioning of these ecosystems. However, assessments of ecosystem function on reefs are often spatially limited, within biogeographic realms, or rely on presumed proxies such as traits....
Article
Coral reefs are highly productive ecosystems, with much of this productivity arising from the algal turfs which cover the hard reef substratum. This productivity can flow up the food chain through herbivorous fishes, to be harvested by humans as fishable biomass. However, algal turfs exist on a spectrum of forms from short productive algal turfs (S...
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Full-text available
Unprecedented global bleaching events have led to extensive loss of corals. This is expected to lead to extensive losses of obligate coral-dependent fishes. Here, we use a novel, spatially-matched census approach to examine the nature of fish-coral dependency across two mass coral bleaching events. Despite a >40% loss of coral cover, and the ecolog...
Article
Algal turfs are likely to rise in prominence on coral reefs in the Anthropocene. In these ecosystems the sediments bound within algal turfs will shape ecosystem functions and the services humanity can obtain from reefs. However, while interest is growing in the role of algal turf sediments, studies remain limited. In this review we provide an overv...
Article
The world's coral reefs are rapidly transforming, with decreasing coral cover and new species configurations. These new Anthropocene reefs pose a challenge for conservation; we can no longer rely on established management plans and actions designed to maintain the status quo when coral reef habitats, and the challenges they faced, were very differe...
Article
1.Globally, coral reefs are being transformed by a suite of stressors, the foremost being climate change. Increasingly, it is expected that these reconfigured reef systems will emerge with lower‐complexity and will be dominated by algal turfs. Understanding this new operating space is vital if we are to maintain the services, such as fishable bioma...
Article
Increased sediment loads within algal turfs, can be highly detrimental to coral reef systems. However, significant knowledge gaps remain in relation to sediment dynamics, especially linking suspended sediments, sedimentation and turf-bound sediments. To examine these links, a series of different methods for quantifying suspended sediments , sedimen...
Article
Mass coral bleaching is challenging today's coral reefs. However, our understanding of dynamics in benthic space holders, following such disturbances, is limited. To address this, we quantified successional dynamics of the ascidian, Didemnum cf. molle using a series of temporally and spatially matched photoquadrats across both the 2016 and 2017 mas...
Article
1.The inherent complexity of high‐diversity systems can make them particularly difficult to understand. The relatively recent introduction of functional approaches, which seek to infer ecosystem functioning based on species’ ecological traits, has revolutionized our understanding of these high‐diversity systems. Today, the functional structure of a...
Article
Sediments trapped within algal turfs play a key role in mediating ecosystem processes on reefs. Despite this ecological importance, our understanding of turf-bound sediments on coastal reefs is limited, even though such reefs are heavily exposed to terrestrial sediments. We compared algal turf sediment loads, composition and grain size distribution...
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Full-text available
Coral reefs around the world are changing rapidly, with overfishing of herbivorous fishes and increased sediment inputs being two of the major local-scale stressors. We therefore assessed the effects of sediment loads and overfishing on the nutritional quality and yield to grazing fishes of algal turfs, within the epilithic algal matrix, on a coral...
Article
Record-breaking temperatures between 2015 and 2016 led to unprecedented pan-tropical bleaching of scleractinian corals. On the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), the effects were most pronounced in the remote, northern region, where over 90% of reefs exhibited bleaching. Mass bleaching that results in widespread coral mortality represents a major disturbanc...
Article
Urchins are ubiquitous components of coral reefs ecosystems, with significant roles in bioerosion and herbivory. By controlling urchin densities, triggerfishes have been identified as keystone predators. However, the functional linkages between urchins and triggerfishes, in terms of distributional patterns and concomitant effects on ecosystem proce...
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Full-text available
The reef flat is one of the largest and most distinctive habitats on coral reefs, yet its role in reef trophodynamics is poorly understood. Evolutionary evidence suggests that reef flat colonization by grazing fishes was a major innovation that permitted the exploitation of new space and trophic resources. However, the reef flat is hydrody-namicall...
Article
X-ray micro-computed tomography scans were used to examine the caudal-fin structure of an unusual double-tailed deformity in an adult brown surgeonfish Acanthurus nigrofuscus from the Great Barrier Reef. In both this case and in a similar double-tailed deformity in a juvenile Tomini surgeonfish Ctenochaetus tominiensis from the Philippines, the cau...
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Full-text available
Ctenochaetus striatus is one of the most abundant surgeonfishes on Indo-Pacific coral reefs, yet the functional role and feeding ecology of this species remain unclear. This species is reported to possess a rigid structure in its palate that is used for scraping, but some authors have reported that this element is comprised of soft tissue. To resol...
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Full-text available
Large fishes often shelter beneath structures on coral reefs. While avoidance of UV radiation has been proposed as the main driver of this behaviour, sheltering behaviour has only been studied during the day and over short timeframes. Here we applied passive acoustic telemetry techniques to continuously monitor shelter usage patterns by large reef...
Article
Full-text available
The lined bristletooth, Ctenochaetus striatus, and the brown surgeonfish, Acanthurus nigrofuscus, are among the most abundant surgeonfishes on Indo-Pacific coral reefs. Yet, the functional role of these species has been the focus of an ongoing debate lasting at least six decades. Specifically, to what extent are C. striatus herbivorous like the vis...
Article
Full-text available
Sediments are found in the epilithic algal matrix (EAM) of all coral reefs and play important roles in ecological processes. Although we have some understanding of patterns of EAM sediments across individual reefs, our knowledge of patterns across broader spatial scales is limited. We used an underwater vacuum sampler to quantify patterns in two of...
Data
Comparison of GLMMs used to examine differences in EAM sediment loads. Models are compared using the corrected Akaike Information Criterion (AICc). Shown are degrees of freedom (df), model maximum log-likelihood (logLik), AICc, change in AICc (Δ) and AICc weight (wAICc). (PDF)
Data
Raw Data: percentages of EAM sediment loads in each grain size fraction (μm). (PDF)
Data
Grain size distributions of EAM sediments. (PDF)
Data
Summary of PERMANOVA results. The PERMANOVA was based on a Bray-Curtis similarity matrix of standardised, log (χ + 1)-transformed sediment grain size data. (PDF)
Data
Parrotfish sediment production/reworking calculations and results. (PDF)
Data
Raw data: inorganic EAM sediment loads across the northern Great Barrier Reef. (PDF)
Data
Summary of GLMM results used to examine differences in EAM sediment loads. The generalised linear mixed effects model was based on a GAMMA distribution with a log link and contained shelf position as a fixed effect and individual reef as a random effect. SE = standard error, df = degrees of freedom. (PDF)
Article
Full-text available
Herbivorous and detritivorous fishes interact closely with the epilithic algal matrix (EAM) on coral reefs. While sediment and organic detrital loads within the EAM might influence this interaction, the responses of functionally distinct fishes to changing sediment and organic loads have not been investigated. Aquarium based feeding trials were per...
Data
Comparison of GLMMs used to examine the response of Ctenochaetus striatus to sediment and organic loads. Models are compared using the corrected Akaike Information Criterion (AICc). Shown are degrees of freedom (df), model maximum log-likelihood (logLik), AICc, change in AICc (Δ) and AICc weight (wAICc). (PDF)
Data
Raw data. Sediment load and organic percentage indicate the specific benthic particulate treatment the fish was exposed to. All count data is the total number recorded during the 15 minute recording period. (PDF)
Data
Comparison of GLMMs used to examine the response of Acanthurus nigrofuscus to sediment and organic loads. Models are compared using the corrected Akaike Information Criterion (AICc). Shown are degrees of freedom (df), model maximum log-likelihood (logLik), AICc, change in AICc (Δ) and AICc weight (wAICc). (PDF)
Data
Summary of GLMM results used to examine the effects of sediment and organic loads on Ctenochaetus striatus. SE = standard error. Negative binomial models used a t statistic while binomial models used a z statistic. (PDF)
Data
Summary of GLMM results used to examine the effects of sediment and organic loads on Acanthurus nigrofuscus. SE = standard error. Negative binomial models used a t statistic while binomial models used a z statistic. (PDF)
Article
The behaviour of juvenile fishes is critical in establishing the link between recruitment and subsequent adult populations. If juvenile fishes move, they can respond to variation in local conditions before adult home ranges are established. Alternatively, if juveniles establish fixed home ranges at settlement, their decisions may determine future p...