Species interactions alter the selection of thermal environment in a coral reef fish

Nay, Tiffany J., Johansen, Jacob L., Rummer, Jodie L., Steffensen, John F., and Hoey, Andrew S. (2021) Species interactions alter the selection of thermal environment in a coral reef fish. Oecologia, 196 (2). pp. 363-371.

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Abstract

Increasing ocean temperatures and the resulting poleward range shifts of species has highlighted the importance of a species preferred temperature and thermal range in shaping ecological communities. Understanding the temperatures preferred and avoided by individual species, and how these are influenced by species interactions is critical in predicting the future trajectories of populations, assemblages, and ecosystems. Using an automated shuttlebox system, we established the preferred temperature and upper and lower threshold temperatures (i.e., avoided temperatures) of a common coral reef fish, the black-axil chromis, Chromis atripectoralis. We then investigated how the presence of conspecifics, heterospecifics (Neopomacentrus bankieri), or a predator (Cephalopholis spiloparaea) influenced the selection of these temperatures. Control C. atripectoralis preferred 27.5 ± 1.0 °C, with individuals avoiding temperatures below 23.5 ± 0.9 °C and above 29.7 ± 0.7 °C. When associating with either conspecifics or heterospecifics, C. atripectoralis selected significantly lower temperatures (conspecifics: preferred = 21.2 ± 1.4 °C, lower threshold = 18.1 ± 0.8 °C; heterospecifics: preferred = 21.1 ± 1.1 °C, lower threshold = 19.2 ± 0.9 °C), but not higher temperatures (conspecifics: preferred = 28.9 ± 1.2 °C, upper threshold = 30.8 ± 0.9 °C; heterospecifics: preferred = 29.7 ± 1.1 °C, upper threshold = 31.4 ± 0.8 °C). The presence of the predator, however, had a significant effect on both lower and upper thresholds. Individual C. atripectoralis exposed themselves to temperatures ~ 5.5 °C cooler or warmer (lower threshold: 18.6 ± 0.5 °C, upper threshold: 35.2 ± 0.5 °C) than control fish before moving into the chamber containing the predator. These findings demonstrate how behavioural responses due to species interactions influence the thermal ecology of a tropical reef fish; however, there appears to be limited scope for individuals to tolerate higher temperatures unless faced with the risk of predation.

Item ID: 70355
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1432-1939
Keywords: Competition, Predation, Teleost fish, Temperature preference, Threshold temperature
Copyright Information: © The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2021.
Funders: ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
Date Deposited: 04 Apr 2022 22:01
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