Habitat degradation and predators have independent trait-mediated effects on prey

McCormick, Mark I., Fakan, Eric P., and Palacios, Maria M. (2019) Habitat degradation and predators have independent trait-mediated effects on prey. Scientific Reports, 9. 15705.

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Abstract

Coral reefs are degrading globally leading to a catastrophic loss of biodiversity. While shifts in the species composition of communities have been well documented associated with habitat change, the mechanisms that underlie change are often poorly understood. Our study experimentally examines the effects of coral degradation on the trait-mediated effects of predators on the morphology, behaviour and performance of a juvenile coral reef fish. Juvenile damselfish were exposed to predators or controls (omnivore or nothing) in seawater that had flowed over either live or dead-degraded coral over a 45d period. No interaction between water source and predator exposure was found. However, fish exposed to degraded water had larger false eyespots relative to the size of their true eyes, and were more active, both of which may lead to a survival advantage. Non-consumptive effects of predators on prey occurred regardless of water source and included longer and deeper bodies, large false eyespots that may distract predator strikes away from the vulnerable head region, and shorter latencies in their response to a simulated predator strike. Research underscores that phenotypic plasticity may assist fishes in coping with habitat degradation and promote greater resilience to habitat change than may otherwise be predicted.

Item ID: 61015
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2045-2322
Keywords: Behavioural ecology; Climate-change ecology
Copyright Information: © The Author(s) 2019. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Research Data: https://doi.org/10.25903/5cb82367e7f39
Date Deposited: 20 Nov 2019 07:47
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060201 Behavioural Ecology @ 100%
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