The cost of carryover effects in a changing environment: context-dependent benefits of a behavioural phenotype in a coral reef fish

Ferrari, Maud, Warren, Donald T., McCormick, Mark I., and Chivers, Douglas P. (2019) The cost of carryover effects in a changing environment: context-dependent benefits of a behavioural phenotype in a coral reef fish. Animal Behaviour, 149. pp. 1-5.

[img] PDF (Published Version) - Published Version
Restricted to Repository staff only

View at Publisher Website:


The fear of predation can have marked effects on an individual's phenotype, and the resulting phenotype is selected to increase an individual's chance of survival during a predator encounter. However, for species with inducible defences, such defensive phenotypes must be costly enough to prevent them from becoming constitutive. While morphological and life-history adaptations have been shown to incur costs, much less research has been done on the costs of behavioural adaptations, which are often thought of as plastic, with limited associated costs. In this study, we document the costs of a high-risk behavioural phenotype. Under high-risk conditions, damselfish are known to exhibit a high-risk phenotype, which among other traits, confer a significant survival advantage during encounters with predators. We exposed juvenile damselfish to a high-risk or low-risk environment for 4 days. We then set up competitive encounters between size-matched pairs of high-risk and low-risk conspecifics. To test for context dependency, we also ran trials when the pair was exposed to a novel predator odour during the competitive encounter. Our results indicate that low-risk fish were the superior competitors in a low-risk environment, but not in a high-risk environment. This result may be explained by an increase in motivation by high-risk individuals to seek shelter from a potential predation threat. Our results highlight (1) the existence of significant costs, even for rapidly induced behavioural phenotypes, and (2) the importance of investigating the adaptive value of phenotypes within the context in which they develop.

Item ID: 57738
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1095-8282
Keywords: antipredator behaviour, behavioural phenotype, damselfish, intraspecific competition, phenotypic plasticity, resource value, risk assessment
Copyright Information: © 2019 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Funders: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Australian Research Council (ARC), ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (CECRS)
Date Deposited: 27 Mar 2019 07:39
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3109 Zoology > 310901 Animal behaviour @ 35%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310302 Community ecology (excl. invasive species ecology) @ 35%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4101 Climate change impacts and adaptation > 410102 Ecological impacts of climate change and ecological adaptation @ 30%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960305 Ecosystem Adaptation to Climate Change @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 50%
More Statistics

Actions (Repository Staff Only)

Item Control Page Item Control Page