Coral Reefs

, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 105–113

Predation risk assessment by olfactory and visual cues in a coral reef fish


DOI: 10.1007/s00338-007-0296-9

Cite this article as:
McCormick, M.I. & Manassa, R. Coral Reefs (2008) 27: 105. doi:10.1007/s00338-007-0296-9


Assessment of predation risk is vital for the success of an individual. Primary cues for the assessment include visual and olfactory stimuli, but the relative importance of these sources of information for risk assessment has seldom been assessed for marine fishes. This study examined the importance of visual and chemical cues in assessing risk for the star goby, Asterropteryx semipunctatus. Visual and chemical cue intensities were used that were indicative of a high threat situation. The behavioural response elicited by both the visual cues of a predator (the rock cod, Cephalopholis boenak) and the chemical alarm cues from conspecifics were similar in magnitude, with responses including a decrease in feeding strikes and moves. A bobbing behaviour was exhibited when the predator was visible and not when only exposed to the chemical alarm cue. When visual and chemical cues were presented together they yielded a stronger antipredator response than when gobies were exposed solely to conspecific alarm cues. This suggests additivity of risk assessment information at the levels of threat used, however, the goby’s response is also likely to depend on the environmental and social context of the predator–prey encounter. This study highlights the importance of chemical cues in the assessment of predation risk for a coral reef fish.


BehaviourChemical alarm cueCoral reef fishOlfactionPredation riskVisual cue

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and School of Marine and Tropical BiologyJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia