Sniffing out the competition? Juvenile coral reef damselfishes use chemical cues to distinguish the presence of conspecific and heterospecific aggregations

Coppock, Amy G., Gardiner, Naomi M., and Jones, Geoffrey P. (2016) Sniffing out the competition? Juvenile coral reef damselfishes use chemical cues to distinguish the presence of conspecific and heterospecific aggregations. Behavioural Processes, 125. pp. 43-50.

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Abstract

Aquatic animals commonly rely on chemical cues to provide information regarding their surroundings. They can respond either by being attracted to (potential mates, preferred habitats) or avoiding (predators, competitors) the source of the stimuli. Coral reef fishes use chemical cues to detect habitats, avoid predators and recognise conspecifics. However, the extent to which chemical cues are used to detect and respond to potential competitors, has received little attention. Here we test olfactory preferences for conspecifics and heterospecifics in newly settled juvenile coral reef fishes. Juveniles of 4 common coral-associated damselfish species: Dascyllus melanurus, Dascyllus reticulatus, Chrysiptera arnazae and Pomacentrus moluccensis, were subjected to olfactory choice tests. Three of the 4 species (excluding P. moluccensis) demonstrated preferences for waterborne conspecifics odours. All species exhibited an avoidance towards heterospecific odours; this aversion was consistently greatest towards P. moluccensis. A neutral response toward heterospecifics was only evident in two instances (1) between the two congeneric Dascyllus species, with D. melanurus toward D. reticulatus, and (2) with C. arnazae toward D. melanurus. While it is already known that the presence of conspecifics plays a vital role in settlement site selection, we show here that the presence of heterospecifics may also be key in determining the spatial distributions of juveniles across areas of coral reef.

Item ID: 43463
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: olfaction, chemosensory cues, group assemblages, conspecifics, heterospecifics
ISSN: 1872-8308
Funders: Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (ARC CECRS)
Date Deposited: 28 Jul 2016 01:22
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
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