Marine Biology

, Volume 156, Issue 11, pp 2413–2419 | Cite as

Spatial variability in habitat associations of pre- and post-settlement stages of coral reef fishes at Ishigaki Island, Japan

  • Yohei NakamuraEmail author
  • Takuro Shibuno
  • David Lecchini
  • Tomohiko Kawamura
  • Yoshiro Watanabe
Short Communication


Successful settlement of pelagic fish larvae into benthic juvenile habitats may be enhanced by a shortened settlement period, since it limits larval exposure to predation in the new habitat. Because the spatial distribution of marine fish larvae immediately prior to settlement versus during settlement was unknown, field experiments were conducted at Ishigaki Island (Japan) using light trap sampling and underwater visual belt transect surveys to investigate the spatial distribution patterns of selected pre- and post-settlement fishes (Acanthuridae, Pomacentridae, Chaetodonidae and Lethrinidae) among four habitats (seagrass bed, coral rubble, branching coral and tabular coral). The results highlighted two patterns: patterns 1, pre- and post-settlement individuals showing a ubiquitous distribution among the four habitats (Acanthuridae) and pattern 2, pre-settlement individuals distributed in all habitats, but post-settlement individuals restricted to coral (most species of Pomacentridae and Chaetodontidae) or seagrass habitats (Lethrinidae). The first pattern minimizes the transition time between the larval pelagic stage and acquisition of a benthic reef habitat, the latter leading immediately to a juvenile lifestyle. In contrast, the second pattern is characterized by high settlement habitat selectivity by larvae and/or differential mortality immediately after settlement.


Spatial Distribution Pattern Coral Reef Fish Coral Rubble Great Species Richness Total Length 
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 are grateful to Y. Takada, O. Abe, M. Kobayashi and the Seikai National Fisheries Research Institute for assistance in the fieldwork. Constructive comments on the manuscript from G. Hardy and anonymous reviewers were much appreciated. This study was supported by a Research Fellowship of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science for Young Scientists (No. 18·10371) awarded to Y. Nakamura.


  1. Almany GR, Webster MS (2006) The predation gauntlet: early post-settlement mortality in reef fishes. Coral Reefs 25:19–22. doi: 10.1007/s00338-005-0044-y CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arvedlund M, Takemura A (2006) The importance of chemical environmental cues for juvenile Lethrinus nebulosus Forsskål (Lethrinidae, Teleostei) when settling into their first benthic habitat. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 338:112–122. doi: 10.1016/j.jembe.2006.07.001 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bonin MC, Srinivasan M, Almany GR, Jones GP (2009) Interactive effects of interspecific competition and microhabitat on early post-settlement survival in a coral reef fish. Coral Reefs 28:265–274. doi: 10.1007/s00338-008-0451-y CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Booth DJ, Wellington G (1998) Settlement preferences in coral-reef fishes: effects on patterns of adult and juvenile distributions, individual fitness and population structure. Aust J Ecol 23:274–279. doi: 10.1111/j.1442-9993.1998.tb00731.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Doherty (2002) Variable replenishment and the density of reef fish populations. In: Sale PF (ed) Coral reef fishes. Academic Press, New York, pp 327–355CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Holbrook SJ, Schmitt RJ (1997) Settlement patterns and process in a coral reef damselfish: in situ nocturnal observation using infrared video. Proc 8th Int Coral Reef Symp 2:1143–1148Google Scholar
  7. Irisson JO, Lecchini D (2008) In situ observation of settlement behaviour in larvae of coral reef fishes at night. J Fish Biol 72:2707–2713. doi: 10.1111/j.1095-8649.2008.01868.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Kaufman L, Ebersole J, Beets J, McIvor CC (1992) A key phase in the recruitment dynamics of coral reef fishes: post-settlement transition. Env Biol Fish 34:109–118. doi: 10.1007/BF00002386 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Kritzer JP, Sale PF (2006) Marine metapopulations. Academic Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  10. Lecchini D (2005) Spatial and behavioural patterns of reef habitat settlement by fish larvae. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 301:247–252. doi: 10.3354/meps301247 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Lecchini D, Shima J, Banaigs B, Galzin R (2005) Larval sensory abilities and mechanisms of habitat selection of a coral reef fish during settlement. Oecologia 143:326–334. doi: 10.1007/s00442-004-1805-y PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Lecchini D, Osenberg CW, Shima JS, St Mary CM, Galzin R (2007) Ontogenetic changes in habitat selection during settlement in a coral reef fish: ecological determinants and sensory mechanisms. Coral Reefs 26:423–432. doi: 10.1007/s00338-007-0212-3 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Leis JM, McCormick MI (2002) The biology, behavior, and ecology of the pelagic, larval stage of coral reef fishes. In: Sale PF (ed) Coral reef fishes. Academic Press, New York, pp 171–199CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. McCormick MI (1999) Delayed metamorphosis of a tropical reef fish (Acanthrus triostegus): a field experiment. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 176:25–38. doi: 10.3354/meps176025 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Nakabo T (2002) Fishes of Japan with pictorial keys to the species. Tokai University Press, TokyoGoogle Scholar
  16. Nakamura Y, Kawasaki H, Sano M (2007) Experimental analysis of recruitment patterns of coral reef fishes in seagrass beds: effects of substrate type, shape, and rigidity. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 71:559–568. doi: 10.1016/j.ecss.2006.09.005 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Nakamura Y, Shibuno T, Lecchini D, Watanabe Y (2009) Habitat selection by emperor fish larvae. Aquat Biol 6:61–65. doi: 10.3354/ab00169 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Okiyama M (ed) (1988) An atlas of the early stage fishes in Japan. Tokai University Press, TokyoGoogle Scholar
  19. Sancho G, Ma D, Lobel PS (1997) Behavioral observations of an upcurrent reef colonization event by larval surgeonfish Ctenochaetus strigosus (Acanthuridae). Mar Ecol Prog Ser 153:311–315. doi: 10.3354/meps153311 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Sweatman H (1988) Field evidence that settling coral reef fish larvae detect resident fishes using dissolved chemical cues. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 124:163–174. doi: 10.1016/0022-0981(88)90170-0 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Vigliola L, Harmelin-Vivien M (2001) Post-settlement ontogeny in three Mediterranean reef fish species of the genus Diplodus. Bull Mar Sci 68:271–286Google Scholar
  22. Webster MS (2002) Role of predators in the early post-settlement demography of coral-reef fishes. Oecologia 131:52–60. doi: 10.1007/s00442-001-0860-x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Wright KJ, Higgs DM, Belanger AJ, Leis JM (2005) Auditory and olfactory abilities of pre-settlement larvae and post-settlement juveniles of a coral reef damselfish (Pisces: Pomacentridae). Mar Biol 147:1425–1434. doi: 10.1007/s00227-005-0028-z CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yohei Nakamura
    • 1
    Email author
  • Takuro Shibuno
    • 2
    • 3
  • David Lecchini
    • 4
  • Tomohiko Kawamura
    • 5
  • Yoshiro Watanabe
    • 5
  1. 1.Graduate School of Kuroshio ScienceKochi UniversityNankokuJapan
  2. 2.Ishigaki Tropical StationSeikai National Fisheries Research InstituteIshigakiJapan
  3. 3.National Research Institute of AquacultureMinami-iseJapan
  4. 4.Centre IRD Nouméa, Institut de Recherche pour le DéveloppementNew CaledoniaFrance
  5. 5.Ocean Research InstituteThe University of TokyoTokyoJapan

Personalised recommendations