Marine Biology

, Volume 151, Issue 2, pp 495–503 | Cite as

Ultraviolet photosensitivity and feeding in larval and juvenile coral reef fishes

  • Suresh Job
  • David R. Bellwood
Research Article


The ability of young coral reef fishes to feed using solely ultraviolet-A (UV-A) radiation during ontogeny was examined using natural prey in experimental tanks. Larvae and juveniles of three coral reef fish species (Pomacentrus amboinensis, Premnas biaculeatus and Apogon compressus) are able to feed successfully using UV-A radiation alone during the later half of the pelagic larval phase. The minimum UV radiation intensities required for larval feeding occur in the field down to depths of 90–130 m in oceanic waters and 15–20 m in turbid inshore waters. There was no abrupt change in UV sensitivity after settlement, indicating that UV photosensitivity may continue to play a significant role in benthic juveniles on coral reefs. Tests of UV sensitivity in the field using light traps indicate that larval and juvenile stages of 16 coral reef fish families are able to detect and respond photopositively to UV wavelengths. These include representatives from families that are unlikely to possess UV sensitivity as adults due to the UV transmission characteristics of the ocular media. Functional UV sensitivity may be more widespread in young coral reef fishes than in the adults, and may play a significant role in detecting zooplanktonic prey.


Coral Reef Reef Fish Light Trap Coral Reef Fish Ocular Medium 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank J. Shand for valuable discussions. R. Rowe, R. Aynsley, R. Fisher and J. Morrison provided invaluable logistical support. Supported by the Australian Coral Reef Society, James Cook University’s Merit Research Grant Scheme and the Australian Research Council. J.C.U. experimental ethics approval no. A402. Publication #164 of the Centre for Coral Reef Biodiversity.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Marine BiologyJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia
  2. 2.Broome Aquaculture CentreTAFEWA – Kimberley CollegeBroomeAustralia
  3. 3.ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, School of Marine BiologyJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia

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