Declining water quality, in particular elevated suspended sediments, poses a significant threat to coastal coral reefs. We exposed juvenile anemonefish (Amphiprion melanopus) to two suspended sediment concentrations (0 or 180 mg L−1) for 7 d and examined their predator escape performance and anti-predator behaviour in both clear water and suspended sediments (0 and 180 mg L−1, i.e. acute exposure). After 7-d exposure to suspended sediments, fish responded faster to a mechanical stimulus and exhibited enhanced fast starts compared to individuals reared in clear water, regardless of acute exposure. Fish were also less active and avoided open areas when exposed to elevated suspended sediments in the test arena when compared to clear water, irrespective of prior 7-d exposure. While these changes are likely strategies to compensate for an increased perceived predation risk in suspended sediments, they may also be associated with non-consumptive costs for juveniles living on turbid reefs.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Allan BJ, Miller GM, McCormick MI, Domenici P, Munday PL (2014) Parental effects improve escape performance of juvenile reef fish in a high-CO2 world. Proc R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 281:20132179
Bates D, Maechler M, Bolker B, Walker S (2015) Fitting linear mixed-effects models using lme4. J Stat Softw 67:1–48
Brown NR, Leighton TG, Richards SD, Heathershaw AD (1998) Measurement of viscous sound absorption at 50–150 kHz in a model turbid environment. J Acoust Soc Am 104:2114–2120
Brown CJ, Jupiter SD, Lin H-Y, Albert S, Klein C, Maina JM, Tulloch VJ, Wenger AS, Mumby PJ (2017) Habitat change mediates the response of coral reef fish populations to terrestrial run-off. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 576:55–68
Domenici P (2010) Context-dependent variability in the components of fish escape response: integrating locomotor performance and behavior. J Exp Zool 313:59–79
Domenici P, Blake R (1997) The kinematics and performance of fish fast-start swimming. J Exp Biol 200:1165–1178
Fabricius KE (2005) Effects of terrestrial runoff on the ecology of corals and coral reefs:review and synthesis. Mar Poll Bull 50:125–146
Fautin DC, Allen GR (1992) Field guide to anemonefishes and their host sea anemones. Western Australian Museum, Perth
Godin JGJ, Smith SA (1988) A fitness cost of foraging in the guppy. Nature 333:69–71
Hamilton RJ, Almany GR, Brown CJ, Pita J, Peterson NA, Choat JH (2017) Logging degrades nursery habitat for an iconic coral reef fish. Biol Cons 210:273–280
Higham TE, Stewart WJ, Wainwright PC (2015) Turbulence, temperature, and turbidity: The ecomechanics of predator-prey interactions in fishes. Integr Comp Biol 55:6–20
Hess S, Prescott LJ, Hoey ASH, McMahon SA, Wenger ASW, Rummer JLR (2017) Species-specific effects of suspended sediments on gill structure and function in coral reef fishes. Proc R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 284
Hawlena D, Schmitz OJ (2010) Physiological stress as a fundamental mechanism linking predation to ecosystem functioning. Am Nat 176:537–556
Hoey AS, McCormick MI (2004) Selective predation for low body condition at the larval-juvenile transition of a coral reef fish. Oecologica 139(1):23–29
Killen SS, Reid D, Marras S, Domenici P (2015) The interplay between aerobic metabolism and antipredator performance: vigilance is related to recovery rate after exercise. Front Physiol 6:111
Larcombe P, Costen A, Woolfe KJ (2001) The hydrodynamic and sedimentary setting of nearshore coral reefs, central Great Barrier Reef shelf, Australia: Paluma Shoals, a case study. Sedimentology 48:811–835
Leahy SM, McCormick MI, Mitchell MD, Ferrari MC (2011) To fear or to feed: the effects of turbidity on perception of risk by a marine fish. Biol Lett:rsbl20110645
Lima SL (1998) Stress and decision making under the risk of predation: recent developments from behavioral, reproductive, and ecological perspectives. Adv Study Behav 27:215–290
Meager JJ, Domenici P, Shingles A, Utne-Palm AC (2006) Escape responses in juvenile Atlantic cod Gadus morhua L.: the effects of turbidity and predator speed. J Exp Biol 209:4174–4184
McCormick MI, Fakan E, Allan BJM (2018) Behavioural measures determine survivorship within the hierarchy of whole-organism phenotypic traits. Fun Ecol 32:958–969
Preisser EL, Bolnick DI, Benard MF (2005) Scared to death? The effects of intimidation and consumption in predator–prey interactions. Ecology 86:501–509
Ramasamy RA, Allan BJ, McCormick MI (2015) Plasticity of escape responses: prior predator experience enhances escape performance in a coral reef fish. Plos One 10:e0132790
Ross RM (1978) Territorial behaviour and ecology of the anemonefish Amphiprion melanopus on Guam. Ethology 36:71–83
Schnörr S, Steenbergen P, Richardson M, Champagne D (2012) Measuring thigmotaxis in larval zebrafish. Behav Brain Res 228:367–374
Syvitski JPM, Vorosmarty CJ, Kettner AJ, Green P (2005) Impact of humans on the flux of terrestrial sediment to the global coastal ocean. Science 308:376–380
Walker J, Ghalambor C, Griset O, McKenney D, Reznick D (2005) Do faster starts increase the probability of evading predators? Fun Ecol 19:808–815
Wenger AS, McCormick MI (2013) Determining trigger values of suspended sediment for behavioral changes in a coral reef fish. Mar Pol Bul 70:73–80
Wenger AS, McCormick MI, McLeod I, Jones G (2013) Suspended sediment alters predator–prey interactions between two coral reef fishes. Coral Reefs 32:369–374
Wenger AS, Williamson DH, da Silva ET, Ceccarelli DM, Browne NK, Petus C, Devlin MJ (2016) Effects of reduced water quality on coral reefs in and out of no-take marine reserves. Cons Biol 30:142–153
Wenger AS, Harvey E, Wilson S, Rawson C, Newman SJ, Clarke D, Saunders BJ, Browne N, Travers MJ, Mcilwain JL (2017) A critical analysis of the direct effects of dredging on fish. Fish Fish 18:967–985
We thank the team at MARFU, Ross Barrett and Sue Reilly for their technical support.
Conflict of interest
All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
This research has been conducted according to the Australian code for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes and has been approved by the Animal Ethics Committee at James Cook University (animal ethics approval number A2218).
Topic Editor Morgan S. Pratchett
Electronic supplementary material
Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.
About this article
Cite this article
Hess, S., Allan, B.J.M., Hoey, A.S. et al. Enhanced fast-start performance and anti-predator behaviour in a coral reef fish in response to suspended sediment exposure. Coral Reefs 38, 103–108 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00338-018-01757-6
- Suspended solids
- Sub-lethal effects
- Predator–prey interactions
- Fish health