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Oecologia

, Volume 143, Issue 2, pp 326–334 | Cite as

Larval sensory abilities and mechanisms of habitat selection of a coral reef fish during settlement

  • David Lecchini
  • Jeffrey Shima
  • Bernard Banaigs
  • René Galzin
Behavioural Ecology

Abstract

Sensory abilities and preferences exhibited by mobile larvae during their transition to juvenile habitats can establish spatial heterogeneity that drives subsequent species interactions and dynamics of populations. We conducted a series of laboratory and field experiments using coral reef fish larvae (Chromis viridis) to determine: ecological determinants of settlement choice (conspecifics vs. heterospecifics vs. coral substrates); sensory mechanisms (visual, acoustic/vibratory, olfactory) underlying settlement choice; and sensory abilities (effective detection distances of habitat) under field conditions. C. viridis larvae responded positively to visual, acoustic/vibratory, and olfactory cues expressed by conspecifics. Overall, larvae chose compartments of experimental arenas containing conspecifics in 75% of trials, and failed to show any significant directional responses to heterospecifics or coral substrates. In field trials, C. viridis larvae detected reefs containing conspecifics using visual and/or acoustic/vibratory cues at distances <75 cm; detection distances increased to <375 cm when olfactory capacity was present (particularly for reefs located up-current). We conducted high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) analyses of seawater containing C. viridis juveniles and isolated high concentrations of several organic compounds. Subsequent laboratory trials demonstrated that C. viridis larvae responded positively to only one of these organic compounds. This compound was characterized by a weak polarity and was detected at 230 nm with a 31-min retention time in HPLC. Overall, our results suggest that fishes may use a range of sensory mechanisms effective over different spatial scales to detect and choose settlement sites, and species-specific cues may play a vital role in establishment of spatial patterns at settlement.

Keywords

Coral reef fish larvae Sensory mechanisms Habitat selection Settlement cues High performance liquid chromatography 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors wish to thank N. Phillips, and two anonymous reviewers for their comments improving the quality of this manuscript, and J. Algret and Y. Chancerelle for their assistance in the field. This research was supported by the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, and a Lavoisier Fellowship (French Ministry to Foreign Affairs) awarded to D. Lecchini. Additional logistic and financial supports were provided by the Centre de Recherches Insulaires et Observatoire de l’Environnement (CRIOBE), the Gump Research Station, and an NSF grant (OCE-0242312) and a New Zealand ISAT Linkage Grant supporting the involvement of the J. Shima. This work is a joint contribution from the CRIOBE and Gump Research Stations, both located on Moorea.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Lecchini
    • 1
    • 2
    • 5
  • Jeffrey Shima
    • 3
  • Bernard Banaigs
    • 4
  • René Galzin
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Ecole Pratique des Hautes EtudesUniversité de PerpignanPerpignanFrance
  2. 2.CRIOBE, Centre de Recherches Insulaires et Observatoire de l’EnvironnementMoorea PolynésieFrance
  3. 3.School of Biological SciencesVictoria University of WellingtonWellingtonNew Zealand
  4. 4.Laboratoire de Chimie des Biomolécules et de l’EnvironnementUniversité de PerpignanPerpignanFrance
  5. 5.Laboratory of Ecology and SystematicsUniversity of the RyukyusJapan

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