Structural complexity but not territory sizes influences flight initiation distance in a damselfish
The fear of predators can lead to behavioral changes in their prey, but animals must trade off defensive behavior against other compelling needs. For territorial species, responding to predators may be especially costly, because defense and escape are mutually incompatible. A growing literature documents risk assessment in fish, but a few studies have focused on extremely territorial fish, and nothing is known about how territory size, territorial interactions, habitat structural complexity, and life stage may modify risk assessment. We studied this in a damselfish (Stegastes fuscus) on coral reefs and measured risk assessment using flight initiation distance (FID). We found that only structural complexity explained variation in FID; fish in more complex habitats tolerated closer approach. Our study suggests that individuals in relatively more structurally complex territories are bolder than those that occur in less complex territories. Documenting the relative importance of these variables is important, because antipredator behavior influences not only the predator–prey relationship, but can also generate cascading effects, and influence the structure of the community and potentially entire ecosystems.
We thank Laboratório de Ecologia Bentônica (LEB-UFBA) team for constant support. F. B. was supported by CNPq fellowships (303897/2011-2; 239978/2012-9) and J.A.C.C.N by CNPq fellowships (150344/2017-1). D.T.B. is currently supported by the US National Science Foundation.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All applicable international, national and/or institutional guidelines for sampling, care and experimental use of organisms for the study have been followed and all necessary approvals have been obtained. This project was approved by Ethics Committee of the Federal University of Bahia (Brasil) of animal use for research and Sistema de Autorização e Informação em Biodiversidade (44060-1).
The data sets generated during and/or analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.
- Aued AW (2012) Comportamento territorial e alimentar do peixe-donzela comum, Stegastes fuscus (Pisces: Pomacentridae) ao longo da costa brasileira. Dissertação (Mestrado em Ecologia). Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC). http://repositorio.ufsc.br/xmlui/handle/123456789/100442
- Ceccarelli D, Jones GP, McCook LJ (2001) Territorial Damselfish as determinants of the structure of benthic communities on coral reef. Oceanogr Mar Biol Annu Rev 39:355–389Google Scholar
- Cruz ICS (2008) Recifes de corais da Baia de Todos os Santos, caracterização, avaliação e identificação de áreas prioritárias para conservação. Dissertação. Universidade Federal da Bahia (UFBA). http://repositorio.ufba.br/ri/handle/ri/12696
- Júnior JG, Mendes LF, Sampaio CLS, Lins JE (2010) Biodiversidade marinha da Bacia Potiguar: ictiofauna. Museu Nacional, Rio de Janeiro, p 195Google Scholar
- Manegatti JV, Vescovi DL, Floeter SR (2003) Interações agonísticas e forrageamento do peixe-donzela, Stegastes fuscus (Peciformes: Pomacentridae). Nat Online 1(2):45–50Google Scholar
- Mattos FMG (2016) Uso de habitat e padrões comportamentais do peixe Stegastes fuscus nos recifes costeiros de Porto de Galinhas (PE). Dissertação (Mestrado em Ciências). Universidade Federal de Pernambuco (UFPE). https://repositorio.ufpe.br/handle/123456789/18328
- Nunes JACC, Sampaio CLS, Barros F (2013) How wave exposure, group size and habitat complexity influence foraging and population densities in fishes of the genus Halichoeres (Perciformes: Labridae) on tropical rocky shores. Mar Biol 160:2383–2394. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00227-013-2233-5 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Reebs SG (2008) Aggression in fishes. www.howfishbehave.ca. Université de Moncton, Canada
- Sampaio CLS, Nottingham MC (2008) Guia para identificação de peixes ornamentais volume I: espécies marinhas. Ibama, Brasília, p 205Google Scholar