Intrageneric differences in the effects of acute temperature exposure on competitive behaviour of damselfishes

Warren, Donald T., and McCormick, Mark I. (2019) Intrageneric differences in the effects of acute temperature exposure on competitive behaviour of damselfishes. PeerJ, 7. e7320.

PDF (Published Version) - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (501kB) | Preview
View at Publisher Website:


Projected increases in global temperatures brought on by climate change threaten to disrupt many biological and ecological processes. Tropical ectotherms, like many fishes, can be particularly susceptible to temperature change as they occupy environments with narrow thermal fluctuations. While climate change models predict temperatures to increase over decades, thermal fluctuations are already experienced on a seasonal scale, which may affect the ability to capture and defend resources across a thermal gradient. For coral reef fish, losers of competitive interactions are often more vulnerable to predation, and this pressure is strongest just after settlement. Competitive interactions may determine future success for coral reef fishes, and understanding how temperature experienced during settlement can influence such interactions will give insight to community dynamics in a future warmer world. We tested the effect of increased temperatures on intraspecific competitive interactions of two sympatric species of reef damselfish, the blue damselfish Pomacentrus nagasakiensis, and the whitetail damselfish Pomacentrus chrysurus. Juvenile fishes were exposed to one of four temperature treatments, ranging from 26-32 degrees C, for seven days then placed into competitive arenas where aggressive interactions were recorded between sized matched individuals within each species. While there was no apparent effect of temperature treatment on aggressive behaviour for P. chrysurus, we observed up to a four-fold increase in aggression scores for P. nagasakiensis with increasing temperature. Results suggest that temperature experienced as juveniles can impact aggressive behaviour; however, species-specific thermal tolerances led to behavioural affects that differ among closely related species. Differential thermal tolerance among species may cause restructuring of the interaction network that underlies the structure of reef assemblages.

Item ID: 60101
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2167-8359
Keywords: Climate change, Competition, Temperature, Thermal plasticity, Coral reef fish
Copyright Information: Copyright 2019. Warren and McCormickDistributed underCreative Commons CC-BY 4.0
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC), ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
Projects and Grants: ARC DP120101933, ARC EI140100117
Date Deposited: 07 Aug 2019 07:42
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 70%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4101 Climate change impacts and adaptation > 410102 Ecological impacts of climate change and ecological adaptation @ 30%
Downloads: Total: 330
Last 12 Months: 14
More Statistics

Actions (Repository Staff Only)

Item Control Page Item Control Page