Temporal links in daily activity patterns between coral reef predators and their prey

Bosiger, Yoland J., and McCormick, Mark I. (2014) Temporal links in daily activity patterns between coral reef predators and their prey. PLoS ONE, 9 (10). e111723. pp. 1-11.

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Few studies have documented the activity patterns of both predators and their common prey over 24 h diel cycles. This study documents the temporal periodicity of two common resident predators of juvenile reef fishes, Cephalopholis cyanostigma (rockcod) and Pseudochromis fuscus (dottyback) and compares these to the activity and foraging pattern of a common prey species, juvenile Pomacentrus moluccensis (lemon damselfish). Detailed observations of activity in the field and using 24 h infrared video in the laboratory revealed that the two predators had very different activity patterns. C. cyanostigma was active over the whole 24 h period, with a peak in feeding strikes at dusk and increased activity at both dawn and dusk, while P. fuscus was not active at night and had its highest strike rates at midday. The activity and foraging pattern of P. moluccensis directly opposes that of C. cyanostigma with individuals reducing strike rate and intraspecific aggression at both dawn and dusk, and reducing distance from shelter and boldness at dusk only. Juveniles examined were just outside the size-selection window of P. fuscus. We suggest that the relatively predictable diel behaviour of coral reef predators results from physiological factors such as visual sensory abilities, circadian rhythmicity, variation in hunting profitability, and predation risk at different times of the day. Our study suggests that the diel periodicity of P. moluccensis behaviour may represent a response to increased predation risk at times when both the ability to efficiently capture food and visually detect predators is reduced.

Item ID: 37069
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1932-6203
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© 2014 Bosiger, Mccormick. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Funders: ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
Projects and Grants: ARC Discovery grant DP0985015
Date Deposited: 07 Jan 2015 07:46
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 50%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060202 Community Ecology (excl Invasive Species Ecology) @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 50%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 50%
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