Ocean acidification and responses to predators: can sensory redundancy reduce the apparent impacts of elevated CO2 on fish?

Lönnstedt, Oona M., Munday, Philip L., McCormick, Mark I., Ferrari, Maud C.O., and Chivers, Douglas P. (2013) Ocean acidification and responses to predators: can sensory redundancy reduce the apparent impacts of elevated CO2 on fish? Ecology and Evolution, 3 (10). pp. 3565-3575.

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Carbon dioxide (CO₂) levels in the atmosphere and surface ocean are rising at an unprecedented rate due to sustained and accelerating anthropogenic CO₂ emissions. Previous studies have documented that exposure to elevated CO₂ causes impaired antipredator behavior by coral reef fish in response to chemical cues associated with predation. However, whether ocean acidification will impair visual recognition of common predators is currently unknown. This study examined whether sensory compensation in the presence of multiple sensory cues could reduce the impacts of ocean acidification on antipredator responses. When exposed to seawater enriched with levels of CO₂ predicted for the end of this century (880 μatm CO₂), prey fish completely lost their response to conspecific alarm cues. While the visual response to a predator was also affected by high CO₂, it was not entirely lost. Fish exposed to elevated CO₂, spent less time in shelter than current-day controls and did not exhibit antipredator signaling behavior (bobbing) when multiple predator cues were present. They did, however, reduce feeding rate and activity levels to the same level as controls. The results suggest that the response of fish to visual cues may partially compensate for the lack of response to chemical cues. Fish subjected to elevated CO₂ levels, and exposed to chemical and visual predation cues simultaneously, responded with the same intensity as controls exposed to visual cues alone. However, these responses were still less than control fish simultaneously exposed to chemical and visual predation cues. Consequently, visual cues improve antipredator behavior of CO₂ exposed fish, but do not fully compensate for the loss of response to chemical cues. The reduced ability to correctly respond to a predator will have ramifications for survival in encounters with predators in the field, which could have repercussions for population replenishment in acidified oceans.

Item ID: 29394
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2045-7758
Keywords: chemical alarm cues, ocean acidification, predator, prey, sensory redundancy, visual cues
Additional Information:

© 2013 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Funders: ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
Research Data: http://dx.doi.org/10.4225/28/5a73b1904969d
Date Deposited: 20 Sep 2013 01:18
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060201 Behavioural Ecology @ 60%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 40%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960307 Effects of Climate Change and Variability on Australia (excl. Social Impacts) @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 50%
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