Oil exposure disrupts early life-history stages of coral reef fishes via behavioural impairments

Johansen, Jacob, Allan, Bridie J.M., Rummer, Jodie L., and Esbaugh, Andrew J. (2017) Oil exposure disrupts early life-history stages of coral reef fishes via behavioural impairments. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 1. pp. 1146-1152.

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Abstract

Global demand for energy and oil-based products is progressively introducing petrogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) into sensitive marine environments, primarily from fossil-fuel exploration, transport, and urban and industrial runoff. These toxic pollutants are found worldwide, yet the long-term ecological effects on coral reef ecosystems are unknown. Here, we demonstrate that oil exposure spanning PAH concentrations that are environmentally relevant for many coastal marine ecosystems (<= 5.7 mu g I-1), including parts of the Great Barrier Reef, Red Sea, Asia and the Caribbean, causes elevated mortality and stunted growth rates in six species of pre-settlement coral reef fishes, spanning two evolutionarily distinct families (Pomacentridae and Lethrinidae). Furthermore, oil exposure alters habitat settlement and antipredator behaviours, causing reduced sheltering, shoaling and increased risk taking, all of which exacerbate predator-induced mortality during recruitment. These results suggest a previously unknown path, whereby oil and PAH exposure impair higher-order cognitive processing and behaviours necessary for the successful settlement and survival of larval fishes. This emphasizes the risks associated with industrial activities within at-risk ecosystems.

Item ID: 51882
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
ISSN: 2397-334X
Funders: Lizard Island Research Station, Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative
Date Deposited: 27 Dec 2017 07:34
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050204 Environmental Impact Assessment @ 50%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960507 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Marine Environments @ 100%
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