Habitat bleaching disrupts threat responses and persistence in anemonefish

Lönnstedt, Oona M., and Frisch, Ashley J. (2014) Habitat bleaching disrupts threat responses and persistence in anemonefish. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 517. pp. 265-270.

PDF (Published Version) - Published Version
Download (1MB) | Preview


Climate-induced habitat bleaching is linked to dramatic declines in diversity and abundance of coral reef fish; however, mechanisms underlying these declines are poorly understood. Here, we used in situ studies to demonstrate that bleaching can influence persistence of reef fish by affecting behaviours, including responses to a potential predation threat. When encountering the predatory rock cod Cephalophalis cyanostigma, anemonefish Amphiprion akindynos occupying healthy unbleached host anemones Heteractis crispa respond by feeding less and spending more time within the anemone tentacles. When the host anemone was experimentally bleached, these visual risk responses were compromised: A. akindynos continued to feed and did not seek shelter. The impaired behavioural response may prove detrimental to anemonefish populations as abundance levels of fish on bleached anemones was reduced by 60% within 3 d, which may have been the result of increased predation. Our data illustrate how climate-induced habitat degradation can drive declines of reef fish by potentially altering outcomes of predator–prey interactions.

Item ID: 37220
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1616-1599
Keywords: climate change, habitat degradation, zooxanthellae, Great Barrier Reef, risk assessment
Funders: Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (ARC CoE Coral Reef Studies), James Cook University (JCU)
Date Deposited: 21 Jan 2015 07:39
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
Downloads: Total: 981
Last 12 Months: 15
More Statistics

Actions (Repository Staff Only)

Item Control Page Item Control Page