Cryptic effects of habitat declines: coral-associated fishes avoid coral-seaweed interactions due to visual and chemical cues

Brooker, Rohan M., Brandl, Simon J., and Dixson, Danielle L. (2016) Cryptic effects of habitat declines: coral-associated fishes avoid coral-seaweed interactions due to visual and chemical cues. Scientific Reports, 6. 18842. pp. 1-8.

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Seaweed-dominated coral reefs are becoming increasingly common as environmental conditions shift away from those required by corals and toward those ideal for rampant seaweed growth. How coral-associated organisms respond to seaweed will not only impact their fate following environmental change but potentially also the trajectories of the coral communities on which they rely. However, behavioral responses by coral-associated organisms to seaweeds are poorly understood. This study examined interactions between a guild of obligate and opportunistic coral-feeding butterflyfishes (Chaetodontidae) and scleractinian corals to determine whether fishes continue to interact with corals in contact with seaweed or if they are avoided. Under natural conditions, all species interacted almost exclusively with seaweed-free corals. In a controlled patch reef experiment, fishes avoided corals in physical contact with seaweed, irrespective of dietary preferences. When visual seaweed cues were removed, butterflyfish continued to avoid corals that had been in contact with the allelopathic Galaxaura filamentosa, suggesting that chemical cues produced by coral-seaweed interactions are repellent. These findings suggest that, due to deleterious visual and chemical cues produced by coral-seaweed interactions, coral-associated organisms may struggle to locate resources as seaweed-free corals decline in abundance.

Item ID: 49356
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2045-2322
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Date Deposited: 12 Jun 2017 23:16
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 50%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4101 Climate change impacts and adaptation > 410102 Ecological impacts of climate change and ecological adaptation @ 50%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960399 Climate and Climate Change not elsewhere classified @ 50%
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