Ontogenetic changes in responses to settlement cues by anemonefish

Dixson, D.L., Munday, P.L., Pratchett, M., and Jones, G.P. (2011) Ontogenetic changes in responses to settlement cues by anemonefish. Coral Reefs, 30 (4). pp. 903-910.

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Population connectivity for most marine species is dictated by dispersal during the pelagic larval stage. Although reef fish larvae are known to display behavioral adaptations that influence settlement site selection, little is known about the development of behavioral preferences throughout the larval phase. Whether larvae are attracted to the same sensory cues throughout their larval phase, or exhibit distinct ontogenetic shifts in sensory preference is unknown. Here, we demonstrate an ontogenetic shift in olfactory cue preferences for two species of anemonefish, a process that could aid in understanding both patterns of dispersal and settlement. Aquarium-bred naïve Amphiprion percula and A. melanopus larvae were tested for olfactory preference of relevant reef-associated chemical cues throughout the 11-day pelagic larval stage. Age posthatching had a significant effect on the preference for olfactory cues from host anemones and live corals for both species. Preferences of olfactory cues from tropical plants of A. percula, increased by approximately ninefold between hatching and settlement, with A. percula larvae showing a fivefold increase in preference for the olfactory cue produced by the grass species. Larval age had no effect on the olfactory preference for untreated seawater over the swamp-based tree Melaleuca nervosa, which was always avoided compared with blank seawater. These results indicate that reef fish larvae are capable of utilizing olfactory cues early in the larval stage and may be predisposed to disperse away from reefs, with innate olfactory preferences drawing newly hatched larvae into the pelagic environment. Toward the end of the larval phase, larvae become attracted to the olfactory cues of appropriate habitats, which may assist them in identification of and navigation toward suitable settlement sites.

Item ID: 19592
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1432-0975
Keywords: olfactory cues, ontogenetic development, behavior, anemonefish, connectivity, chemical ecology
Date Deposited: 16 Jan 2012 05:41
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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