Maladaptive behavior reinforces a recruitment bottleneck in newly settled fishes

Fuiman, Lee A., Meekan, Mark G., and McCormick, Mark I. (2010) Maladaptive behavior reinforces a recruitment bottleneck in newly settled fishes. Oecologia, 164 (1). pp. 99-108.

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Settlement from the plankton ends the major dispersive stage of life for many marine organisms and exposes them to intense predation pressure in juvenile habitats. This predation mortality represents a life-history bottleneck that can determine recruitment success. At the level of individual predator–prey interactions, prey survival depends upon behavior, specifically how behavior affects prey conspicuousness and evasive ability. We conducted an experiment to identify behavioral traits and performance levels that are important determinants of which individuals survive or die soon after settlement. We measured a suite of behavioral traits on late stage, pre-settlement Ward's damsel (Pomacentrus wardi) collected using light traps. These behavioral traits included two measures of routine swimming (indicators of conspicuousness) and eight measures of escape performance to a visual startle stimulus. Fish were then released onto individual patch reefs, where divers measured an additional behavioral trait (boldness). We censused each patch reef until approximately 50% of the fish were missing (~24 h), which we assumed to be a result of predation. We used classification tree analysis to discriminate survivors from fish presumed dead based on poor behavioral performance. The classification tree revealed that individuals displaying the maladaptive combination of low escape response speed, low boldness on the reef, and high routine swimming speed were highly susceptible to predation (92.4% with this combination died within 24 h). This accounted for 55.2% of all fish that died. Several combinations of behavioral traits predicted likely survival over 24 h, but there was greater uncertainty about that prediction than there was for fish that were predicted to die. Thus maladaptive behavioral traits were easier to identify than adaptive traits.

Item ID: 15187
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1432-1939
Keywords: swimming performance; anti-predator behavior; settlement; mortality; survivorship
Date Deposited: 13 Jan 2011 02:21
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060202 Community Ecology (excl Invasive Species Ecology) @ 50%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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