A magnetic compass that might help coral reef fish larvae return to their natal reef

Bottesch, Michael, Gerlach, Gabriele, Halbach, Maurits, Andreas, Bally, Kingsford, Michael J., and Mouritsen, Henrik (2016) A magnetic compass that might help coral reef fish larvae return to their natal reef. Current Biology, 26 (24). R1266-R1267.

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Many coral reef fish larvae spend days to months in the open ocean before settlement on coral reefs [1]. Early in development, larvae have limited swimming capabilities and will therefore be greatly affected by currents. This can potentially result in dispersal distances of tens of kilometers [2]. Nevertheless, up to 60 % of surviving larvae have been shown to return to their natal reefs [2]. To home, the larvae must develop strong swimming capabilities and appropriate orientation mechanisms. Most late-stage larval reef fish can, after being passively drifted for days to weeks, swim strongly [3], and Ostorhinchus doederleini larvae have been shown to use chemotaxis to identify their natal reef once in its vicinity [2] and a sun compass for longer distance orientation [4] during the day. But how do they orient at night? Here, we show that newly settled fish caught at One Tree Island (OTI) at the Capricorn Bunker Reef Group (Great Barrier Reef) can use geomagnetic compass information to keep a south-east heading. This behavior might help them return to their natal reef in the absence of any celestial cues at night.

Item ID: 48582
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1879-0445
Keywords: magnetic compass; cardinal fish; Great Barrier Reef; Australia larvae
Funders: German Science Foundation (GSF), Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
Projects and Grants: GSF Ge842/6-1
Date Deposited: 21 Apr 2017 02:09
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3109 Zoology > 310901 Animal behaviour @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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