Degraded environments alter prey risk assessment

Lönnstedt, Oona I., McCormick, Mark I., and Chivers, Douglas P. (2013) Degraded environments alter prey risk assessment. Ecology and Evolution, 3 (1). pp. 38-47.

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Abstract

Elevated water temperatures, a decrease in ocean pH, and an increasing prevalence of severe storms have lead to bleaching and death of the hard corals that underpin coral reef ecosystems. As coral cover declines, fish diversity and abundance declines. How degradation of coral reefs affects behavior of reef inhabitants is unknown. Here, we demonstrate that risk assessment behaviors of prey are severely affected by coral degradation. Juvenile damselfish were exposed to visual and olfactory indicators of predation risk in healthy live, thermally bleached, and dead coral in a series of laboratory and field experiments. While fish still responded to visual cues in all habitats, they did not respond to olfactory indicators of risk in dead coral habitats, likely as a result of alteration or degradation of chemical cues. These cues are critical for learning and avoiding predators, and a failure to respond can have dramatic repercussions for survival and recruitment.

Item ID: 24577
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2045-7758
Keywords: Chemical alarm cues; coral degradation; coral reefs; Pomacentrus amboinensis; predation; Pseudochromis fuscus
Research Data: http://dx.doi.org/10.4225/28/5a7b86489e46b
Date Deposited: 16 Jan 2013 02:36
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 @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960307 Effects of Climate Change and Variability on Australia (excl. Social Impacts) @ 50%
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