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Habitat bleaching disrupts threat responses and persistence in anemonefish
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Biology, Department of Ecology and Genetics, Limnology. (Fish Ecology)
2014 (English)In: Marine Ecology Progress Series, ISSN 0171-8630, E-ISSN 1616-1599, Vol. 517, 265-270 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Climate-induced habitat bleaching is linked to dramatic declines in diversity and abundance of coral reef fish; however, mechanisms underlying these declines are poorly understood. Here, we used in situ studies to demonstrate that bleaching can influence persistence of reef fish by affecting behaviours, including responses to a potential predation threat. When encountering the predatory rock cod Cephalophalis cyanostigma, anemonefish Amphiprion akindynos occupying healthy unbleached host anemones Heteractis crispa respond by feeding less and spending more time within the anemone tentacles. When the host anemone was experimentally bleached, these visual risk responses were compromised: A. akindynos continued to feed and did not seek shelter. The impaired behavioural response may prove detrimental to anemonefish populations as abundance levels of fish on bleached anemones was reduced by 60% within 3 d, which may have been the result of increased predation. Our data illustrate how climate-induced habitat degradation can drive declines of reef fish by potentially altering outcomes of predator–prey interactions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 517, 265-270 p.
Keyword [en]
climate change, habitat degradation, zooxanthellae, Great Barrier Reef, risk assessment
National Category
Biological Sciences
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-241253DOI: 10.3354/meps11031ISI: 000346421400020OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-241253DiVA: diva2:777986
Available from: 2015-01-09 Created: 2015-01-09 Last updated: 2015-01-20Bibliographically approved

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