Excavating behavior of red groupers increases biodiversity in reef communities because they create and maintain habitats.

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"Red grouper (Epinephelus morio) is an economically important species in the reef fish community of the southeastern United States, and especially the Gulf of MexicoWorking both inshore in Florida Bay, Florida (U.S.A.), and offshore in the Gulf of Mexico shelf-edge fishery reserveswe characterized red-grouper habitat and the associated faunal assemblages and demonstrated through a series of experiments that red grouper expose rocky habitat by excavating with their mouths and fanning with their fins to clear away surficial sediment, thereby providing habitat for themselves as well as other reef-dwelling organisms. They also maintain this habitat by periodically clearing away sediment and debris. Such maintenance provides a clean rocky substrate for the attachment of sessile invertebrates, thereby modifying habitat features to provide refuge for many other species of fish and motile invertebrates. We demonstrated increased biodiversity and abundance associated with habitat structured by red grouper, and we speculate here as to its fishery importance as habitat for other economically important species such as spiny lobster (Panulirus argus) and vermilion snapper (Rhomboplites aurorubens)." (Coleman et al. 2010:1)

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Journal article
Benthic Habitat Modification through Excavation by Red Grouper, Epinephelus morio, in the Northeastern Gulf of MexicoTOFISHSJJanuary 13, 2010
Felicia C. Coleman, Christopher C. Koenig, Kathryn M. Scanlon, Scott Heppell, Selina Heppell, Margaret W. Miller

New study reveals red grouper are Frank Lloyd Wrights of the sea

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