Host preference, site fidelity, and homing behavior of the symbiotically luminous cardinalfish, Siphamia tubifer (Perciformes: Apogonidae)

Abstract

The sea urchin cardinalfish, Siphamia tubifer (Perciformes: Apogonidae), is unusual among coral reef fishes for its use of bioluminescence, produced by symbiotic bacteria, while foraging at night. As a foundation for understanding the relationship between the symbiosis and the ecology of the fish, this study examined the diel behavior, host urchin preference, site fidelity, and homing of S. tubifer in June and July of 2012 and 2013 at reefs near Sesoko Island, Okinawa, Japan (26°38′N, 127°52′E). After foraging, S. tubifer aggregated in groups among the spines of the longspine sea urchin, Diadema setosum, and the banded sea urchin, Echinothrix calamaris. A preference for D. setosum was evident (P < 0.001), especially by larger individuals (>25 mm standard length, P < 0.01), and choice experiments demonstrated the ability of S. tubifer to recognize and orient to a host urchin and to conspecifics. Tagging studies revealed that S. tubifer exhibits daily fidelity to a host urchin; 43–50 and 26–37 % of tagged individuals were associated with the same urchin after 3 and 7 days. Tagged fish also returned to their site of origin after displacement; by day two, 23–43 and 27–33 % of tagged individuals returned from displacement distances of 1 and 2 km. These results suggest that S. tubifer uses various environmental cues for homing and site fidelity; similar behaviors and cues might be used by larvae for recruitment to settlement sites and for the acquisition of luminous symbiotic bacteria.

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Acknowledgments

We thank K. Dougan (University of Michigan) and S. Kadena (Sesoko Station) for technical assistance. This study is a contribution from Sesoko Station, Tropical Biosphere Research Center, University of the Ryukyus. Support was provided by the University of Michigan’s Rackham Graduate School and International Institute, and the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

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Correspondence to Alison L. Gould.

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Communicated by K. Clements.

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Gould, A.L., Harii, S. & Dunlap, P.V. Host preference, site fidelity, and homing behavior of the symbiotically luminous cardinalfish, Siphamia tubifer (Perciformes: Apogonidae). Mar Biol 161, 2897–2907 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00227-014-2554-z

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Keywords

  • Standard Length
  • Site Fidelity
  • Coral Reef Fish
  • Symbiotic Bacterium
  • Reef Site