Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 47–52 | Cite as

Odd fish abandon mixed-species groups when threatened

  • Nancy G. Wolf


In a field experiment, two juvenile size classes of striped parrotfish (Scarus iserti), stoplight light parrotfish (Sparisoma viride), and ocean surgeonfish (Acanthurus bahianus) were threatened by a model of a common predator (the trumpetfish, Aulostomus maculatus) while alone and in mixedspecies groups of 3–100 members. Striped parrotfish, which usually consitute the majority of a group, used the groups for protection. Stopight parrotfish, present in very low numbers, hid in the coral. Individuals of both species left a group sooner if it had fewer conspecifics. Small surgeonfish sought protection in groups, while larger individuals too big to be consumed by the trumpetfish, swam away alone. These results may be explained by differences in the protection derived from mixed-species groups, and particularly, by the high predation risk suffered by odd individuals.


Field Experiment Size Classis Predation Risk Large Individual High Predation 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nancy G. Wolf
    • 1
  1. 1.Section of Ecology and SystematicsCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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