, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 103-110

Nocturnal orientation to reefs by late pelagic stage coral reef fishes

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 The nocturnal orientation behaviour of the late pelagic stages of two reef fish families (Apogonidae and Pomacentridae) was examined using behavioural cages deployed in the field. The behavioural cages enabled the fish to choose between swimming towards or away from the reef in response to natural cues. Overall, 55% of fish displayed a choice in the experiments, however, the proportion varied between the two families, with 67% of pomacentrids and 27% of apogonids displaying a choice. In both families, of the fish which displayed a choice, the proportion of fish swimming towards the reef was significantly greater than 50%, as random movement would predict (64% of pomacentrids and 67% of apogonids swam towards the reef). This proportion did not vary significantly among four field sites with different current regimes and geographic locations. The results suggest that the late pelagic stages of reef fish display nocturnal orientation behaviour, possibly in response to sound, which may aid in their settlement on reefs.

Accepted: 18 August 1997