Terrestrial chemical cues help coral reef fish larvae locate settlement habitat surrounding islands

Dixson, Danielle L., Jones, Geoffrey P., Munday, Philip L., Pratchett, Morgan S., Srinivasan, Maya, Planes, Serge, and Thorrold, Simon R. (2011) Terrestrial chemical cues help coral reef fish larvae locate settlement habitat surrounding islands. Ecology and Evolution, 1 (4). pp. 586-595.

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Understanding the degree of connectivity between coastal and island landscapes and nearby coral reefs is vital to the integrated management of terrestrial and marine environments in the tropics. Coral reef fish are capable of navigating appropriate settlement habitats following their pelagic larval phase, but the mechanisms by which they do this are unclear. The importance of olfactory cues in settlement site selection has been demonstrated, and there is increasing evidence that chemical cues from terrestrial sources may be important for some species. Here, we test the olfactory preferences of eight island-associated coral reef fish recruits and one generalist species to discern the capacity for terrestrial cue recognition that may aid in settlement site selection. A series of pairwise choice experiments were used to evaluate the potential role that terrestrial, water-borne olfactory cues play in island–reef recognition. Olfactory stimuli tested included near-shore water, terrestrial rainforest leaf litter, and olfactory cues collected from different reef types (reefs surrounding vegetated islands, and reefs with no islands present). All eight island-associated species demonstrated high levels of olfactory discrimination and responded positively toward olfactory cues indicating the presence of a vegetated island. We hypothesize that although these fish use a suite of cues for settlement site recognition, one mechanism in locating their island/reef habitat is through the olfactory cues produced by vegetated islands. This research highlights the role terrestrial olfactory cues play in large-scale settlement site selection and suggests a high degree of ecosystem connectivity.

Item ID: 19572
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2045-7758
Keywords: chemical ecology; dispersal; habitat selection; Olfactory cues; recruitment; settlement site selection
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© 2011 The Authors. Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

This is an Open Access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial License which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes.

Date Deposited: 16 Jan 2012 06:26
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
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