Coral Reefs

, Volume 32, Issue 2, pp 369–374

Suspended sediment alters predator–prey interactions between two coral reef fishes

  • A. S. Wenger
  • M. I. McCormick
  • I. M. McLeod
  • G. P. Jones
Note

Abstract

Sediment derived from agriculture and development increases water turbidity and threatens the health of inshore coral reefs. In this study, we examined whether suspended sediment could change predation patterns through a reduction in visual cues. We measured survivorship of newly settled Chromis atripectoralis exposed to Pseudochromis fuscus, a common predator of juvenile damselfishes, in aquaria with one of four turbidity levels. Increased turbidity led to a nonlinear response in predation patterns. Predator-induced mortality was ~50 % in the control and low turbidity level, but exhibited a substantial increase in the medium level. In the highest turbidity level, predation rates declined to the level seen in the control. These results suggest an imbalance in how the predator and prey cope with turbidity. A turbidity-induced change to the outcome of predator–prey interactions represents a major change to the fundamental processes that regulate fish assemblages.

Keywords

Turbidity Sediment thresholds Damselfish Predation 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. S. Wenger
    • 1
    • 2
  • M. I. McCormick
    • 1
  • I. M. McLeod
    • 1
  • G. P. Jones
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Marine and Tropical Biology, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef StudiesJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia
  2. 2.Catchment to Reef Research Group, TropWATERJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia

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