Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 58, Issue 1, pp 18–26

Experimental assessment of sensory modalities of coral-reef fish larvae in the recognition of their settlement habitat

Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00265-004-0905-3

Cite this article as:
Lecchini, D., Planes, S. & Galzin, R. Behav Ecol Sociobiol (2005) 58: 18. doi:10.1007/s00265-004-0905-3


One of the great mysteries of coral-reef fish ecology is how larvae locate the relatively rare patches of coral-reef habitat on which they settle. The present study aimed to estimate, by experiments in aquaria, the sensory modalities of coral-reef fish larvae for senses used in searching for their species’ settlement habitat. Larval recognition of settlement habitat can be based on the detection of conspecifics and/or of characteristics of coral habitat using visual, chemical and mechanical cues. For this study, larvae were captured with crest nets and were then introduced into experimental tanks that allowed testing of each type of cue separately (visual, chemical or mechanical cues). Among the 18 species studied, 13 chose their settlement habitat due to the presence of conspecifics and not based on the characteristics of coral habitat, and 5 species did not move toward their settlement habitat (e.g. Scorpaenodes parvipinnis, Apogon novemfasciatus). Among the different sensory cues tested, two species used the three types of cues (Parupeneus barberinus and Ctenochaetus striatus: visual, chemical and mechanical cues), six used two types (e.g. Myripristis pralinia: visual and chemical cues; Naso unicornis: visual and mechanical cues), and five used one type (e.g. Chrysiptera leucopoma: visual cues; Pomacentrus pavo: chemical cues). These results demonstrate that many coral-reef fish larvae could in practice use sensory cues for effective habitat selection at settlement, and have the ability to discriminate species-specific sensory cues.


Coral-reef fish Sensory modality Settlement Attractant cues Moorea Island 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Lecchini
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Serge Planes
    • 1
    • 2
  • René Galzin
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, UMR-CNRS 8046Université de PerpignanPerpignanFrance
  2. 2.CRIOBECentre de Recherches Insulaires et Observatoire de l’EnvironnementMooreaFrench Polynesia
  3. 3.Laboratory of Ecology and SystematicsUniversity of the RyukyusNishiharaJapan

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