Stars and stripes: biofluorescent lures in the striated frogfish indicate role in aggressive mimicry
KeywordsCoral Reef Reef Fish Prey Capture Coral Reef Fish Blue Lead
Recent research shows biofluorescence is common in cryptic-patterned coral reef fishes (Sparks et al. 2014). The functional roles of biofluorescence are largely unknown although camouflage and covert intraspecific communication have been hypothesized (Sparks et al. 2014).
Anglerfishes (order Lophiiformes) use an adapted first dorsal spine (esca) as a lure to attract potential prey (aggressive mimicry). Some anglerfishes inhabiting the deep sea (1000 m) use bioluminescent esca to attract prey in dark waters. On coral reefs, anglerfishes are represented by frogfishes (Antennaridae), which are cryptic ambush predators whose species-specific esca have evolved to resemble prey such as crustaceans or worms (Pietsch and Grobecker 1987).
These observations indicate a novel function (prey capture) for biofluorescence in coral reef fishes. Given that aggressive mimicry is typical of frogfishes, further research is required to confirm whether biofluorescent esca influence predation success in this genus and to determine the role of biofluorescence in the evolution of reef fishes.
We thank Luke Gordon for assistance with surveys and daytime photography. Dauin research permits granted to MDB by municipality mayor Neil B. Credo.
Supplementary material 1 (MP4 98410 kb)
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