Fish cultivate gardens of algae
July 24, 2007
Damselfish cultivate “gardens” of algae, according to a study published last October in the journal Biology Letters.
National Geographic News reports that the dusky farmerfish “has developed a co-dependent relationship with a species of the red algae Polysiphonia… on coral reefs in the Ryukyu archipelago, a scattering of islands that stretches between southern Japan and Taiwan.”
“Not only do the fish rely on the algae as a source of food, but the algae only survive well if they are farmed,” Hiroki Hata, a marine biologist from Kyoto University in Japan, told Helen Scales of National Geographic News.
“Damselfish are among the handful of animals—including humans, ants, and salt-marsh snails—that are known to cultivate beneficial crops,” notes Scales. The damselfish defend their “gardens” by chasing off other fish nipping at human divers.
National Geographic News: Gardening Fish “Domesticate” Crops of Algae
Live fish trade causing massive depletion of coral reef species. According to a new study conducted by Cambridge University researchers off the northern coast of Borneo, the live reef fish trade is having a major impact on marine populations. While the trade — which consists of fish being collected from coral reefs, shipped thousands of miles, then cooked live as a delicacy in upscale restaurants — is booming thanks to a rapidly swelling middle class in Asia, the new study suggests that high prices are driving ever greater rates of depletion from distant tropical reefs.