Asymmetries in body condition and order of arrival influence competitive ability and survival in a coral reef fish

Poulos, Davina E., and McCormick, Mark I. (2015) Asymmetries in body condition and order of arrival influence competitive ability and survival in a coral reef fish. Oecologia, 179 (3). pp. 719-728.

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Trade-offs between traits that influence an individual's competitive ability are important in determining community assembly and coexistence of individuals sharing the same resources. Populations of coral reef fish are structurally complex, so it is important to understand how these populations are shaped as a result of an individual's suite of traits and those of its competitors. We conducted a 2 x 2 factorial field experiment that manipulated body condition (high or low, manipulated through a feeding regime) and residency (resident or intruder, where the resident arrived at the habitat 3 h before the intruder) to evaluate effects on competitive ability and survival. Prior residency alleviated the disadvantage of a low body condition with respect to aggression, which was similar between low-condition residents and high-condition intruders. However, high-condition residents displayed a significantly greater level of aggression than intruders, regardless of whether intruders were from high- or low-condition treatments. For intruders to have a high probability of becoming dominant, they needed to have a large body condition advantage. Mortality trajectories suggested that body condition modified the effect of prior residency, and intruders were more likely to suffer mortality if they had a low body condition because residents pushed them away from shelter. Our results highlight that the negative effects of some traits may be compensated for by the positive effects of other traits, and that the specific ecological context an individual faces (such as the characteristics of its competitors) can have a major influence on successful establishment and persistence.

Item ID: 41974
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1432-1939
Keywords: aggression, body condition, competition, pomacentrus amboinensis, priority effect
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Date Deposited: 08 Dec 2015 18:39
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 50%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060201 Behavioural Ecology @ 50%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 50%
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