Risk assessment via predator diet cues in a coral reef goby

Manassa, R.P., and McCormick, M.I. (2012) Risk assessment via predator diet cues in a coral reef goby. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 426-427. pp. 48-52.

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Recent studies conducted in freshwater systems have shown that predator faeces can provide important chemosensory information to prey individuals. To date, no studies on the ability of prey to assess risk through predator diet cues have been undertaken in coral reef ecosystems. Therefore, the present study investigated whether the conspecific chemical cues of a coral reef goby (Asterropteryx semipunctatus) elicited an anti-predator response once they had passed through the gut of a common piscivore (the rock cod, Cephalopholis boenak). Predators were fed one of two different diets: A. semipunctatus or Xiphophorus helleri for three consecutive days. Acclimated A. semipunctatus were then exposed to: faecal cues containing digested A. semipunctatus or X. helleri; conspecific chemical cues; X. helleri chemical cues; and seawater. A significant reduction in moves and feeding strikes was observed in response to the faeces containing conspecifics, compared to those containing X. helleri. This change in behaviour was of a similar magnitude to that exhibited towards the conspecific chemical cue, suggesting that a key component of the cue may not completely degrade during the digestion process. This is the first study to document behavioural responses to predator faeces in a coral reef fish, highlighting the effectiveness of diet cues as a method of risk assessment.

Item ID: 23183
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 0022-0981
Keywords: behaviour, chemical cues, coral reef fish, olfaction, predation risk assessment, predator diet cues
Date Deposited: 22 Aug 2012 05:28
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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