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Projected near-future CO2 levels increase activity and alter defensive behaviours in the tropical squid Idiosepius pygmaeus.
Biol Open
PUBLISHED: 10-19-2014
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Carbon dioxide (CO2) levels projected to occur in the oceans by the end of this century cause a range of behavioural effects in fish, but whether other highly active marine organisms, such as cephalopods, are similarly affected is unknown. We tested the effects of projected future CO2 levels (626 and 956 µatm) on the behaviour of male two-toned pygmy squid, Idiosepius pygmaeus. Exposure to elevated CO2 increased the number of active individuals by 19-25% and increased movement (number of line-crosses) by nearly 3 times compared to squid at present-day CO2. Squid vigilance and defensive behaviours were also altered by elevated CO2 with >80% of individuals choosing jet escape responses over defensive arm postures in response to a visual startle stimulus, compared with 50% choosing jet escape responses at control CO2. In addition, more escape responses were chosen over threat behaviours in body pattern displays at elevated CO2 and individuals were more than twice as likely to use ink as a defence strategy at 956 µatm CO2, compared with controls. Increased activity could lead to adverse effects on energy budgets as well as increasing visibility to predators. A tendency to respond to a stimulus with escape behaviours could increase survival, but may also be energetically costly and could potentially lead to more chases by predators compared with individuals that use defensive postures. These results demonstrate that projected future ocean acidification affects the behaviours of a tropical squid species.
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Odor tracking in sharks is reduced under future ocean acidification conditions.
Glob Chang Biol
PUBLISHED: 08-11-2014
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Recent studies show that ocean acidification impairs sensory functions and alters the behavior of teleost fishes. If sharks and other elasmobranchs are similarly affected, this could have significant consequences for marine ecosystems globally. Here, we show that projected future CO2 levels impair odor tracking behavior of the smooth dogfish (Mustelus canis). Adult M. canis were held for 5 days in a current-day control (405 ± 26 ?atm) and mid (741 ± 22 ?atm) or high CO2 (1064 ± 17 ?atm) treatments consistent with the projections for the year 2100 on a 'business as usual' scenario. Both control and mid CO2 -treated individuals maintained normal odor tracking behavior, whereas high CO2 -treated sharks significantly avoided the odor cues indicative of food. Control sharks spent >60% of their time in the water stream containing the food stimulus, but this value fell below 15% in high CO2 -treated sharks. In addition, sharks treated under mid and high CO2 conditions reduced attack behavior compared to the control individuals. Our findings show that shark feeding could be affected by changes in seawater chemistry projected for the end of this century. Understanding the effects of ocean acidification on critical behaviors, such as prey tracking in large predators, can help determine the potential impacts of future ocean acidification on ecosystem function.
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Experimental evaluation of diversity-productivity relationships in a coral reef fish assemblage.
Oecologia
PUBLISHED: 06-04-2014
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The global decline in biodiversity is causing increasing concern about the effects of biodiversity loss on ecosystem services such as productivity. Biodiversity has been hypothesised to be important in maintaining productivity of biological assemblages because niche complementarity and facilitation among the constituent species can result in more efficient use of resources. However, these conclusions are primarily based on studies with plant communities, and the relationship between diversity and productivity at higher trophic levels is largely unknown, especially in the marine environment. Here, we used a manipulative field experiment to test the effects of species richness and species identity on biomass accumulation in coral reef fish assemblages at Lizard Island. Small patch reefs were stocked with a total of 30 juveniles belonging to three planktivorous damselfish (genus Pomacentrus) according to three different levels of fish species richness (one, two and three species) and seven different combinations of fish species. Species richness had no effect on the relative growth in this assemblage after 18 days, but relative growth differed among individual fish species and the different combinations of species. Patterns of increase in biomass were best explained by species-specific differences and variable effects of intra- and interspecific competition on growth. These results suggest that niche complementarity and facilitation are not the most influential drivers of total productivity within this guild of planktivorous fishes. Total productivity may be resilient to declining reef fish biodiversity, but this will depend on which species are lost and on the life-history traits of remaining species.
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Ocean acidification slows retinal function in a damselfish through interference with GABAA receptors.
J. Exp. Biol.
PUBLISHED: 01-31-2014
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Vision is one of the most efficient senses used by animals to catch prey and avoid predators. Therefore, any deficiency in the visual system could have important consequences for individual performance. We examined the effect of CO2 levels projected to occur by the end of this century on retinal responses in a damselfish, by determining the threshold of its flicker electroretinogram (fERG). The maximal flicker frequency of the retina was reduced by continuous exposure to elevated CO2, potentially impairing the capacity of fish to react to fast events. This effect was rapidly counteracted by treatment with a GABA antagonist (gabazine), indicating that GABAA receptor function is disrupted by elevated CO2. In addition to demonstrating the effects of elevated CO2 on fast flicker fusion of marine fishes, our results show that the fish retina could be a model system to study the effects of high CO2 on neural processing.
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Reproductive acclimation to increased water temperature in a tropical reef fish.
PLoS ONE
PUBLISHED: 01-01-2014
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Understanding the capacity of organisms to cope with projected global warming through acclimation and adaptation is critical to predicting their likely future persistence. While recent research has shown that developmental acclimation of metabolic attributes to ocean warming is possible, our understanding of the plasticity of key fitness-associated traits, such as reproductive performance, is lacking. We show that while the reproductive ability of a tropical reef fish is highly sensitive to increases in water temperature, reproductive capacity at +1.5°C above present-day was improved to match fish maintained at present-day temperatures when fish complete their development at the higher temperature. However, reproductive acclimation was not observed in fish reared at +3.0°C warmer than present-day, suggesting limitations to the acclimation possible within one generation. Surprisingly, the improvements seen in reproduction were not predicted by the oxygen- and capacity-limited thermal tolerance hypothesis. Specifically, pairs reared at +1.5°C, which showed the greatest capacity for reproductive acclimation, exhibited no acclimation of metabolic attributes. Conversely, pairs reared at +3.0°C, which exhibited acclimation in resting metabolic rate, demonstrated little capacity for reproductive acclimation. Our study suggests that understanding the acclimation capacity of reproductive performance will be critically important to predicting the impacts of climate change on biological systems.
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Shifting from right to left: the combined effect of elevated CO2 and temperature on behavioural lateralization in a coral reef fish.
PLoS ONE
PUBLISHED: 01-01-2014
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Recent studies have shown that elevated CO2 can affect the behaviour of larval and juvenile fishes. In particular, behavioural lateralization, an expression of brain functional asymmetries, is affected by elevated CO2 in both coral reef and temperate fishes. However, the potentially interacting effects of rising temperatures and CO2 on lateralization are unknown. Here, we tested the combined effect of near-future elevated-CO2 concentrations (930 µatm) and temperature variation on behavioural lateralization of a marine damselfish, Pomacentrus wardi. Individuals exposed to one of four treatments (two CO2 levels and two temperatures) were observed in a detour test where they made repeated decisions about turning left or right. Individuals exposed to current CO2 and ambient temperature levels showed a significant right-turning bias at the population level. This biased was reversed (i.e. to the left side) in fish exposed to the elevated-CO2 treatment. Increased temperature attenuated this effect, resulting in lower values of relative lateralization. Consequently, rising temperature and elevated CO2 may have different and interactive effects on behavioural lateralization and therefore future studies on the effect of climate change on brain functions need to consider both these critical variables in order to assess the potential consequences for the ecological interactions of marine fishes.
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Parental effects improve escape performance of juvenile reef fish in a high-CO2 world.
Proc. Biol. Sci.
PUBLISHED: 01-01-2014
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Rising CO2 levels in the oceans are predicted to have serious consequences for many marine taxa. Recent studies suggest that non-genetic parental effects may reduce the impact of high CO2 on the growth, survival and routine metabolic rate of marine fishes, but whether the parental environment mitigates behavioural and sensory impairment associated with high CO2 remains unknown. Here, we tested the acute effects of elevated CO2 on the escape responses of juvenile fish and whether such effects were altered by exposure of parents to increased CO2 (transgenerational acclimation). Elevated CO2 negatively affected the reactivity and locomotor performance of juvenile fish, but parental exposure to high CO2 reduced the effects in some traits, indicating the potential for acclimation of behavioural impairment across generations. However, acclimation was not complete in some traits, and absent in others, suggesting that transgenerational acclimation does not completely compensate the effects of high CO2 on escape responses.
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Marine mollusc predator-escape behaviour altered by near-future carbon dioxide levels.
Proc. Biol. Sci.
PUBLISHED: 11-15-2013
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Ocean acidification poses a range of threats to marine invertebrates; however, the potential effects of rising carbon dioxide (CO2) on marine invertebrate behaviour are largely unknown. Marine gastropod conch snails have a modified foot and operculum allowing them to leap backwards rapidly when faced with a predator, such as a venomous cone shell. Here, we show that projected near-future seawater CO2 levels (961 µatm) impair this escape behaviour during a predator-prey interaction. Elevated-CO2 halved the number of snails that jumped from the predator, increased their latency to jump and altered their escape trajectory. Physical ability to jump was not affected by elevated-CO2 indicating instead that decision-making was impaired. Antipredator behaviour was fully restored by treatment with gabazine, a GABA antagonist of some invertebrate nervous systems, indicating potential interference of neurotransmitter receptor function by elevated-CO2, as previously observed in marine fishes. Altered behaviour of marine invertebrates at projected future CO2 levels could have potentially far-reaching implications for marine ecosystems.
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Otx2 expression and implications for olfactory imprinting in the anemonefish, Amphiprion percula.
Biol Open
PUBLISHED: 09-15-2013
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The otx2 gene encodes a transcription factor (OTX2) essential in the formation of the brain and sensory systems. Specifically, OTX2-positive cells are associated with axons in the olfactory system of mice and otx2 is upregulated in odour-exposed zebrafish, indicating a possible role in olfactory imprinting. In this study, otx2 was used as a candidate gene to investigate the molecular mechanisms of olfactory imprinting to settlement cues in the coral reef anemonefish, Amphiprion percula. The A. percula otx2 (Ap-otx2) gene was elucidated, validated, and its expression tested in settlement-stage A. percula by exposing them to behaviourally relevant olfactory settlement cues in the first 24?hours post-hatching, or daily throughout the larval phase. In-situ hybridisation revealed expression of Ap-otx2 throughout the olfactory epithelium with increased transcript staining in odour-exposed settlement-stage larval fish compared to no-odour controls, in all scenarios. This suggests that Ap-otx2 may be involved in olfactory imprinting to behaviourally relevant settlement odours in A. percula.
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Ocean acidification reverses competition for space as habitats degrade.
Sci Rep
PUBLISHED: 08-13-2013
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How marine communities are affected by CO2-induced climate change depends on the ability of species to tolerate or adapt to the new conditions, and how the altered characteristics of species influence the outcomes of key processes, such as competition and predation. Our study examines how near future CO2 levels may affect the interactions between two damselfish species known to compete for space, and the effects of declining habitat quality on these interactions. The two focal species differed in their tolerance to elevated CO2, with the species that is competitively dominant under present day conditions being most affected. Field experiments showed that elevated CO2 (945??atm) reversed the competitive outcome between the two species with mortal consequences, and this reversal was accentuated in degraded habitats. Understanding these complex interactions will be crucial to predicting the likely composition of future communities under ocean acidification and climate change.
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Within-colony feeding selectivity by a corallivorous reef fish: foraging to maximize reward?
Ecol Evol
PUBLISHED: 08-11-2013
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Foraging theory predicts that individuals should choose a prey that maximizes energy rewards relative to the energy expended to access, capture, and consume the prey. However, the relative roles of differences in the nutritive value of foods and costs associated with differences in prey accessibility are not always clear. Coral-feeding fishes are known to be highly selective feeders on particular coral genera or species and even different parts of individual coral colonies. The absence of strong correlations between the nutritional value of corals and prey preferences suggests other factors such as polyp accessibility may be important. Here, we investigated within-colony feeding selectivity by the corallivorous filefish, Oxymonacanthus longirostris, and if prey accessibility determines foraging patterns. After confirming that this fish primarily feeds on coral polyps, we examined whether fish show a preference for different parts of a common branching coral, Acropora nobilis, both in the field and in the laboratory experiments with simulated corals. We then experimentally tested whether nonuniform patterns of feeding on preferred coral species reflect structural differences between polyps. We found that O. longirostris exhibits nonuniform patterns of foraging in the field, selectively feeding midway along branches. On simulated corals, fish replicated this pattern when food accessibility was equal along the branch. However, when food access varied, fish consistently modified their foraging behavior, preferring to feed where food was most accessible. When foraging patterns were compared with coral morphology, fish preferred larger polyps and less skeletal protection. Our results highlight that patterns of interspecific and intraspecific selectivity can reflect coral morphology, with fish preferring corals or parts of coral colonies with structural characteristics that increase prey accessibility.
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Predicting evolutionary responses to climate change in the sea.
Ecol. Lett.
PUBLISHED: 08-01-2013
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An increasing number of short-term experimental studies show significant effects of projected ocean warming and ocean acidification on the performance on marine organisms. Yet, it remains unclear if we can reliably predict the impact of climate change on marine populations and ecosystems, because we lack sufficient understanding of the capacity for marine organisms to adapt to rapid climate change. In this review, we emphasise why an evolutionary perspective is crucial to understanding climate change impacts in the sea and examine the approaches that may be useful for addressing this challenge. We first consider what the geological record and present-day analogues of future climate conditions can tell us about the potential for adaptation to climate change. We also examine evidence that phenotypic plasticity may assist marine species to persist in a rapidly changing climate. We then outline the various experimental approaches that can be used to estimate evolutionary potential, focusing on molecular tools, quantitative genetics, and experimental evolution, and we describe the benefits of combining different approaches to gain a deeper understanding of evolutionary potential. Our goal is to provide a platform for future research addressing the evolutionary potential for marine organisms to cope with climate change.
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Ocean acidification and responses to predators: can sensory redundancy reduce the apparent impacts of elevated CO2 on fish?
Ecol Evol
PUBLISHED: 06-03-2013
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Carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere and surface ocean are rising at an unprecedented rate due to sustained and accelerating anthropogenic CO2 emissions. Previous studies have documented that exposure to elevated CO2 causes impaired antipredator behavior by coral reef fish in response to chemical cues associated with predation. However, whether ocean acidification will impair visual recognition of common predators is currently unknown. This study examined whether sensory compensation in the presence of multiple sensory cues could reduce the impacts of ocean acidification on antipredator responses. When exposed to seawater enriched with levels of CO2 predicted for the end of this century (880 ?atm CO2), prey fish completely lost their response to conspecific alarm cues. While the visual response to a predator was also affected by high CO2, it was not entirely lost. Fish exposed to elevated CO2, spent less time in shelter than current-day controls and did not exhibit antipredator signaling behavior (bobbing) when multiple predator cues were present. They did, however, reduce feeding rate and activity levels to the same level as controls. The results suggest that the response of fish to visual cues may partially compensate for the lack of response to chemical cues. Fish subjected to elevated CO2 levels, and exposed to chemical and visual predation cues simultaneously, responded with the same intensity as controls exposed to visual cues alone. However, these responses were still less than control fish simultaneously exposed to chemical and visual predation cues. Consequently, visual cues improve antipredator behavior of CO2 exposed fish, but do not fully compensate for the loss of response to chemical cues. The reduced ability to correctly respond to a predator will have ramifications for survival in encounters with predators in the field, which could have repercussions for population replenishment in acidified oceans.
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Impaired learning of predators and lower prey survival under elevated CO2 : a consequence of neurotransmitter interference.
Glob Chang Biol
PUBLISHED: 05-15-2013
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Ocean acidification is one of the most pressing environmental concerns of our time, and not surprisingly, we have seen a recent explosion of research into the physiological impacts and ecological consequences of changes in ocean chemistry. We are gaining considerable insights from this work, but further advances require greater integration across disciplines. Here, we showed that projected near-future CO2 levels impaired the ability of damselfish to learn the identity of predators. These effects stem from impaired neurotransmitter function; impaired learning under elevated CO2 was reversed when fish were treated with gabazine, an antagonist of the GABA-A receptor - a major inhibitory neurotransmitter receptor in the brain of vertebrates. The effects of CO2 on learning and the link to neurotransmitter interference were manifested as major differences in survival for fish released into the wild. Lower survival under elevated CO2 , as a result of impaired learning, could have a major influence on population recruitment.
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Increased CO2 stimulates reproduction in a coral reef fish.
Glob Chang Biol
PUBLISHED: 05-13-2013
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Ocean acidification is predicted to negatively impact the reproduction of many marine species, either by reducing fertilization success or diverting energy from reproductive effort. While recent studies have demonstrated how ocean acidification will affect larval and juvenile fishes, little is known about how increasing partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO(2)) and decreasing pH might affect reproduction in adult fishes. We investigated the effects of near-future levels of pCO(2) on the reproductive performance of the cinnamon anemonefish, Amphiprion melanopus, from the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Breeding pairs were held under three CO(2) treatments [Current-day Control (430 ?atm), Moderate (584 ?atm) and High (1032 ?atm)] for a 9-month period that included the summer breeding season. Unexpectedly, increased CO(2) dramatically stimulated breeding activity in this species of fish. Over twice as many pairs bred in the Moderate (67% of pairs) and High (55%) compared to the Control (27%) CO(2) treatment. Pairs in the High CO(2) group produced double the number of clutches per pair and 67% more eggs per clutch compared to the Moderate and Control groups. As a result, reproductive output in the High group was 82% higher than that in the Control group and 50% higher than that in the Moderate group. Despite the increase in reproductive activity, there was no difference in adult body condition among the three treatment groups. There was no significant difference in hatchling length between the treatment groups, but larvae from the High CO(2) group had smaller yolks than Controls. This study provides the first evidence of the potential effects of ocean acidification on key reproductive attributes of marine fishes and, contrary to expectations, demonstrates an initially stimulatory (hormetic) effect in response to increased pCO(2). However, any long-term consequences of increased reproductive effort on individuals or populations remain to be determined.
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Evolution in an acidifying ocean.
Trends Ecol. Evol. (Amst.)
PUBLISHED: 04-15-2013
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Ocean acidification poses a global threat to biodiversity, yet species might have the capacity to adapt through evolutionary change. Here we summarize tools available to determine species capacity for evolutionary adaptation to future ocean change and review the progress made to date with respect to ocean acidification. We focus on two key approaches: measuring standing genetic variation within populations and experimental evolution. We highlight benefits and challenges of each approach and recommend future research directions for understanding the modulating role of evolution in a changing ocean.
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Species-specific effects of near-future CO(2) on the respiratory performance of two tropical prey fish and their predator.
Comp. Biochem. Physiol., Part A Mol. Integr. Physiol.
PUBLISHED: 04-10-2013
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Ocean surface CO2 levels are increasing in line with rising atmospheric CO2 and could exceed 900?atm by year 2100, with extremes above 2000?atm in some coastal habitats. The imminent increase in ocean pCO2 is predicted to have negative consequences for marine fishes, including reduced aerobic performance, but variability among species could be expected. Understanding interspecific responses to ocean acidification is important for predicting the consequences of ocean acidification on communities and ecosystems. In the present study, the effects of exposure to near-future seawater CO2 (860?atm) on resting (M? O2rest) and maximum (M?O2max) oxygen consumption rates were determined for three tropical coral reef fish species interlinked through predator-prey relationships: juvenile Pomacentrus moluccensis and Pomacentrus amboinensis, and one of their predators: adult Pseudochromis fuscus. Contrary to predictions, one of the prey species, P. amboinensis, displayed a 28-39% increase in M?O2max after both an acute and four-day exposure to near-future CO2 seawater, while maintaining M?O2rest. By contrast, the same treatment had no significant effects on M?O2rest or M?O2max of the other two species. However, acute exposure of P. amboinensis to 1400 and 2400?atm CO2 resulted in M?O2max returning to control values. Overall, the findings suggest that: (1) the metabolic costs of living in a near-future CO2 seawater environment were insignificant for the species examined at rest; (2) the M?O2max response of tropical reef species to near-future CO2 seawater can be dependent on the severity of external hypercapnia; and (3) near-future ocean pCO2 may not be detrimental to aerobic scope of all fish species and it may even augment aerobic scope of some species. The present results also highlight that close phylogenetic relatedness and living in the same environment, does not necessarily imply similar physiological responses to near-future CO2.
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Experimental evaluation of imprinting and the role innate preference plays in habitat selection in a coral reef fish.
Oecologia
PUBLISHED: 03-18-2013
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When facing decisions about where to live, juveniles have a strong tendency to choose habitats similar to where their parents successfully bred. Developing larval fishes can imprint on the chemical cues from their natal habitat. However, to demonstrate that imprinting is ecologically important, it must be shown that settlers respond and distinguish among different imprinted cues, and use imprinting for decisions in natural environments. In addition, the potential role innate preferences play compared to imprinted choices also needs to be examined. As environmental variability increases due to anthropogenic causes these two recognition mechanisms, innate and imprinting, could provide conflicting information. Here we used laboratory rearing and chemical choice experiments to test imprinting in larval anemonefish (Amphiprion percula). Individuals exposed to a variety of benthic habitat or novel olfactory cues as larvae either developed a preference for (spent >50 % of their time in the cue) or increased their attraction to (increased preference but did not spend >50 % of their time in the cue) the cue when re-exposed as settlers. Results indicate not only the capacity for imprinting but also the ability to adjust innate preferences after early exposure to a chemical cue. To test ecological relevance in the natural system, recruits were collected from anemones and related to their parents, using genetic parentage analysis, providing information on the natal anemone species and the species chosen at settlement. Results demonstrated that recruits did not preferentially return to their natal species, conflicting with laboratory results indicating the importance imprinting might have in habitat recognition.
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Life on the edge: thermal optima for aerobic scope of equatorial reef fishes are close to current day temperatures.
Glob Chang Biol
PUBLISHED: 03-04-2013
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Equatorial populations of marine species are predicted to be most impacted by global warming because they could be adapted to a narrow range of temperatures in their local environment. We investigated the thermal range at which aerobic metabolic performance is optimum in equatorial populations of coral reef fish in northern Papua New Guinea. Four species of damselfishes and two species of cardinal fishes were held for 14 days at 29, 31, 33, and 34 °C, which incorporated their existing thermal range (29-31 °C) as well as projected increases in ocean surface temperatures of up to 3 °C by the end of this century. Resting and maximum oxygen consumption rates were measured for each species at each temperature and used to calculate the thermal reaction norm of aerobic scope. Our results indicate that one of the six species, Chromis atripectoralis, is already living above its thermal optimum of 29 °C. The other five species appeared to be living close to their thermal optima (ca. 31 °C). Aerobic scope was significantly reduced in all species, and approached zero for two species at 3 °C above current-day temperatures. One species was unable to survive even short-term exposure to 34 °C. Our results indicate that low-latitude reef fish populations are living close to their thermal optima and may be more sensitive to ocean warming than higher-latitude populations. Even relatively small temperature increases (2-3 °C) could result in population declines and potentially redistribution of equatorial species to higher latitudes if adaptation cannot keep pace.
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Phylogenetic evidence for recent diversification of obligate coral-dwelling gobies compared with their host corals.
Mol. Phylogenet. Evol.
PUBLISHED: 03-03-2013
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The rich diversity of coral reef organisms is supported, at least in part, by the diversity of coral reef habitat. Some of the most habitat specialised fishes on coral reefs are obligate coral-dwelling gobies of the genus Gobiodon that inhabit a range of coral species, mostly of the genus Acropora. However, the role of this specialised pattern of habitat use in the evolution of coral-dwelling gobies is not well understood. Diversification of coral-dwelling gobies may be driven by the diversification of their host corals (cospeciation), or alternatively, diversification of these fishes may have occurred independently of the diversification of host corals. The cospeciation hypothesis assumes similar timing in evolution of the gobies and their host corals. We used four genes for each group and the available fossil records to reconstruct and date phylogenies for 20 species of Gobiodon from the Indo-Pacific and the Red Sea, and for 28 species of the coral genus Acropora. Our results indicate that Gobiodon diversified mostly in the last ?5My, whereas Acropora corals have consistently diversified since the Eocene, making the hypothesis of cospeciation untenable. The fully resolved molecular phylogeny of the genus Gobiodon is in part at odds with previous analyses incorporating morphological data and indicates that some morphological traits form paraphyletic clades within Gobiodon. Our phylogeny supports a hypothesis in which Gobiodon diversified in the Indo-Pacific Ocean and then radiated recently, with multiple new variants found in the Red Sea.
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Elevated CO2 affects predator-prey interactions through altered performance.
PLoS ONE
PUBLISHED: 02-07-2013
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Recent research has shown that exposure to elevated carbon dioxide (CO2) affects how fishes perceive their environment, affecting behavioral and cognitive processes leading to increased prey mortality. However, it is unclear if increased mortality results from changes in the dynamics of predator-prey interactions or due to prey increasing activity levels. Here we demonstrate that ocean pCO2 projected to occur by 2100 significantly effects the interactions of a predator-prey pair of common reef fish: the planktivorous damselfish Pomacentrus amboinensis and the piscivorous dottyback Pseudochromis fuscus. Prey exposed to elevated CO2 (880 µatm) or a present-day control (440 µatm) interacted with similarly exposed predators in a cross-factored design. Predators had the lowest capture success when exposed to elevated CO2 and interacting with prey exposed to present-day CO2. Prey exposed to elevated CO2 had reduced escape distances and longer reaction distances compared to prey exposed to present-day CO2 conditions, but this was dependent on whether the prey was paired with a CO2 exposed predator or not. This suggests that the dynamics of predator-prey interactions under future CO2 environments will depend on the extent to which the interacting species are affected and can adapt to the adverse effects of elevated CO2.
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Relative importance of coral cover, habitat complexity and diversity in determining the structure of reef fish communities.
PLoS ONE
PUBLISHED: 01-01-2013
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The structure of coral reef habitat has a pronounced influence on the diversity, composition and abundance of reef-associated fishes. However, the particular features of the habitat that are most critical are not always known. Coral habitats can vary in many characteristics, notably live coral cover, topographic complexity and coral diversity, but the relative effects of these habitat characteristics are often not distinguished. Here, we investigate the strength of the relationships between these habitat features and local fish diversity, abundance and community structure in the lagoon of Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef. In a spatial comparison using sixty-six 2m(2) quadrats, fish species richness, total abundance and community structure were examined in relation to a wide range of habitat variables, including topographic complexity, habitat diversity, coral diversity, coral species richness, hard coral cover, branching coral cover and the cover of corymbose corals. Fish species richness and total abundance were strongly associated with coral species richness and cover, but only weakly associated with topographic complexity. Regression tree analysis showed that coral species richness accounted for most of the variation in fish species richness (63.6%), while hard coral cover explained more variation in total fish abundance (17.4%), than any other variable. In contrast, topographic complexity accounted for little spatial variation in reef fish assemblages. In degrading coral reef environments, the potential effects of loss of coral cover and topographic complexity are often emphasized, but these findings suggest that reduced coral biodiversity may ultimately have an equal, or greater, impact on reef-associated fish communities.
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Effects of acidification on olfactory-mediated behaviour in freshwater and marine ecosystems: a synthesis.
Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Lond., B, Biol. Sci.
PUBLISHED: 01-01-2013
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For many aquatic organisms, olfactory-mediated behaviour is essential to the maintenance of numerous fitness-enhancing activities, including foraging, reproduction and predator avoidance. Studies in both freshwater and marine ecosystems have demonstrated significant impacts of anthropogenic acidification on olfactory abilities of fish and macroinvertebrates, leading to impaired behavioural responses, with potentially far-reaching consequences to population dynamics and community structure. Whereas the ecological impacts of impaired olfactory-mediated behaviour may be similar between freshwater and marine ecosystems, the underlying mechanisms are quite distinct. In acidified freshwater, molecular change to chemical cues along with reduced olfaction sensitivity appear to be the primary causes of olfactory-mediated behavioural impairment. By contrast, experiments simulating future ocean acidification suggest that interference of high CO2 with brain neurotransmitter function is the primary cause for olfactory-mediated behavioural impairment in fish. Different physico-chemical characteristics between marine and freshwater systems are probably responsible for these distinct mechanisms of impairment, which, under globally rising CO2 levels, may lead to strikingly different consequences to olfaction. While fluctuations in pH may occur in both freshwater and marine ecosystems, marine habitat will remain alkaline despite future ocean acidification caused by globally rising CO2 levels. In this synthesis, we argue that ecosystem-specific mechanisms affecting olfaction need to be considered for effective management and conservation practices.
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Habitat biodiversity as a determinant of fish community structure on coral reefs.
Ecology
PUBLISHED: 12-23-2011
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Increased habitat diversity is often predicted to promote the diversity of animal communities because a greater variety of habitats increases the opportunities for species to specialize on different resources and coexist. Although positive correlations between the diversities of habitat and associated animals are often observed, the underlying mechanisms are only now starting to emerge, and none have been tested specifically in the marine environment. Scleractinian corals constitute the primary habitat-forming organisms on coral reefs and, as such, play an important role in structuring associated reef fish communities. Using the same field experimental design in two geographic localities differing in regional fish species composition, we tested the effects of coral species richness and composition on the diversity, abundance, and structure of the local fish community. Richness of coral species overall had a positive effect on fish species richness but had no effect on total fish abundance or evenness. At both localities, certain individual coral species supported similar levels of fish diversity and abundance as the high coral richness treatments, suggesting that particular coral species are disproportionately important in promoting high local fish diversity. Furthermore, in both localities, different microhabitats (coral species) supported very different fish communities, indicating that most reef fish species distinguish habitat at the level of coral species. Fish communities colonizing treatments of higher coral species richness represented a combination of those inhabiting the constituent coral species. These findings suggest that mechanisms underlying habitat-animal interaction in the terrestrial environment also apply to marine systems and highlight the importance of coral diversity to local fish diversity. The loss of particular key coral species is likely to have a disproportionate impact on the biodiversity of associated fish communities.
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Putting prey and predator into the CO2 equation--qualitative and quantitative effects of ocean acidification on predator-prey interactions.
Ecol. Lett.
PUBLISHED: 09-21-2011
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Little is known about the impact of ocean acidification on predator-prey dynamics. Herein, we examined the effect of carbon dioxide (CO(2)) on both prey and predator by letting one predatory reef fish interact for 24 h with eight small or large juvenile damselfishes from four congeneric species. Both prey and predator were exposed to control or elevated levels of CO(2). Mortality rate and predator selectivity were compared across CO(2) treatments, prey size and species. Small juveniles of all species sustained greater mortality at high CO(2) levels, while large recruits were not affected. For large prey, the pattern of prey selectivity by predators was reversed under elevated CO(2). Our results demonstrate both quantitative and qualitative consumptive effects of CO(2) on small and larger damselfish recruits respectively, resulting from CO(2)-induced behavioural changes likely mediated by impaired neurological function. This study highlights the complexity of predicting the effects of climate change on coral reef ecosystems.
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Terrestrial chemical cues help coral reef fish larvae locate settlement habitat surrounding islands.
Ecol Evol
PUBLISHED: 09-20-2011
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Understanding the degree of connectivity between coastal and island landscapes and nearby coral reefs is vital to the integrated management of terrestrial and marine environments in the tropics. Coral reef fish are capable of navigating appropriate settlement habitats following their pelagic larval phase, but the mechanisms by which they do this are unclear. The importance of olfactory cues in settlement site selection has been demonstrated, and there is increasing evidence that chemical cues from terrestrial sources may be important for some species. Here, we test the olfactory preferences of eight island-associated coral reef fish recruits and one generalist species to discern the capacity for terrestrial cue recognition that may aid in settlement site selection. A series of pairwise choice experiments were used to evaluate the potential role that terrestrial, water-borne olfactory cues play in island-reef recognition. Olfactory stimuli tested included near-shore water, terrestrial rainforest leaf litter, and olfactory cues collected from different reef types (reefs surrounding vegetated islands, and reefs with no islands present). All eight island-associated species demonstrated high levels of olfactory discrimination and responded positively toward olfactory cues indicating the presence of a vegetated island. We hypothesize that although these fish use a suite of cues for settlement site recognition, one mechanism in locating their island/reef habitat is through the olfactory cues produced by vegetated islands. This research highlights the role terrestrial olfactory cues play in large-scale settlement site selection and suggests a high degree of ecosystem connectivity.
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Elevated carbon dioxide affects behavioural lateralization in a coral reef fish.
Biol. Lett.
PUBLISHED: 08-17-2011
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Elevated carbon dioxide (CO(2)) has recently been shown to affect chemosensory and auditory behaviour, and activity levels of larval reef fishes, increasing their risk of predation. However, the mechanisms underlying these changes are unknown. Behavioural lateralization is an expression of brain functional asymmetries, and thus provides a unique test of the hypothesis that elevated CO(2) affects brain function in larval fishes. We tested the effect of near-future CO(2) concentrations (880 µatm) on behavioural lateralization in the reef fish, Neopomacentrus azysron. Individuals exposed to current-day or elevated CO(2) were observed in a detour test where they made repeated decisions about turning left or right. No preference for right or left turns was observed at the population level. However, individual control fish turned either left or right with greater frequency than expected by chance. Exposure to elevated-CO(2) disrupted individual lateralization, with values that were not different from a random expectation. These results provide compelling evidence that elevated CO(2) directly affects brain function in larval fishes. Given that lateralization enhances performance in a number of cognitive tasks and anti-predator behaviours, it is possible that a loss of lateralization could increase the vulnerability of larval fishes to predation in a future high-CO(2) ocean.
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Ocean acidification erodes crucial auditory behaviour in a marine fish.
Biol. Lett.
PUBLISHED: 06-01-2011
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Ocean acidification is predicted to affect marine ecosystems in many ways, including modification of fish behaviour. Previous studies have identified effects of CO(2)-enriched conditions on the sensory behaviour of fishes, including the loss of natural responses to odours resulting in ecologically deleterious decisions. Many fishes also rely on hearing for orientation, habitat selection, predator avoidance and communication. We used an auditory choice chamber to study the influence of CO(2)-enriched conditions on directional responses of juvenile clownfish (Amphiprion percula) to daytime reef noise. Rearing and test conditions were based on Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predictions for the twenty-first century: current-day ambient, 600, 700 and 900 µatm pCO(2). Juveniles from ambient CO(2)-conditions significantly avoided the reef noise, as expected, but this behaviour was absent in juveniles from CO(2)-enriched conditions. This study provides, to our knowledge, the first evidence that ocean acidification affects the auditory response of fishes, with potentially detrimental impacts on early survival.
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Homing ability of adult cardinalfish is affected by elevated carbon dioxide.
Oecologia
PUBLISHED: 04-28-2011
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The levels of carbon dioxide (CO(2)) predicted for the oceans by the end of this century have recently been shown to impair olfactory discrimination in larval fishes. However, whether this disruption extends to olfactory-mediated behaviour in adult fishes is unknown. In many fishes, adult survival and reproduction can be critically dependent upon navigation to home sites. We tested the effects that near-future levels of CO(2) (550, 700 or 950 ppm) have on the ability of adult five-lined cardinalfish, Cheilodipterus quinquelineatus, to home to their diurnal resting sites after nocturnal feeding. Cardinalfish exposed to elevated CO(2) exhibited impaired ability to distinguish between odours of home- versus foreign-site conspecifics in pair-wise choice experiments. A displacement experiment demonstrated that fish from all CO(2) treatments displayed a 22-31% reduction in homing success compared with control fish when released at 200 m from home sites. While CO(2)-exposed cardinalfish released directly back onto home sites exhibited similar site fidelity to control subjects, behaviour at home sites was affected, with CO(2)-exposed fish exhibiting increased activity levels and venturing further from shelter. This study demonstrates that the potential disruption of chemosensory mechanisms in fishes due to rising CO(2) levels in the ocean extend to critical adult behaviours.
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Ocean acidification affects prey detection by a predatory reef fish.
PLoS ONE
PUBLISHED: 02-05-2011
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Changes in olfactory-mediated behaviour caused by elevated CO(2) levels in the ocean could affect recruitment to reef fish populations because larval fish become more vulnerable to predation. However, it is currently unclear how elevated CO(2) will impact the other key part of the predator-prey interaction--the predators. We investigated the effects of elevated CO(2) and reduced pH on olfactory preferences, activity levels and feeding behaviour of a common coral reef meso-predator, the brown dottyback (Pseudochromis fuscus). Predators were exposed to either current-day CO(2) levels or one of two elevated CO(2) levels (?600 µatm or ?950 µatm) that may occur by 2100 according to climate change predictions. Exposure to elevated CO(2) and reduced pH caused a shift from preference to avoidance of the smell of injured prey, with CO(2) treated predators spending approximately 20% less time in a water stream containing prey odour compared with controls. Furthermore, activity levels of fish was higher in the high CO(2) treatment and feeding activity was lower for fish in the mid CO(2) treatment; indicating that future conditions may potentially reduce the ability of the fish to respond rapidly to fluctuations in food availability. Elevated activity levels of predators in the high CO(2) treatment, however, may compensate for reduced olfactory ability, as greater movement facilitated visual detection of food. Our findings show that, at least for the species tested to date, both parties in the predator-prey relationship may be affected by ocean acidification. Although impairment of olfactory-mediated behaviour of predators might reduce the risk of predation for larval fishes, the magnitude of the observed effects of elevated CO(2) acidification appear to be more dramatic for prey compared to predators. Thus, it is unlikely that the altered behaviour of predators is sufficient to fully compensate for the effects of ocean acidification on prey mortality.
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Replenishment of fish populations is threatened by ocean acidification.
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A.
PUBLISHED: 07-06-2010
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There is increasing concern that ocean acidification, caused by the uptake of additional CO(2) at the ocean surface, could affect the functioning of marine ecosystems; however, the mechanisms by which population declines will occur have not been identified, especially for noncalcifying species such as fishes. Here, we use a combination of laboratory and field-based experiments to show that levels of dissolved CO(2) predicted to occur in the ocean this century alter the behavior of larval fish and dramatically decrease their survival during recruitment to adult populations. Altered behavior of larvae was detected at 700 ppm CO(2), with many individuals becoming attracted to the smell of predators. At 850 ppm CO(2), the ability to sense predators was completely impaired. Larvae exposed to elevated CO(2) were more active and exhibited riskier behavior in natural coral-reef habitat. As a result, they had 5-9 times higher mortality from predation than current-day controls, with mortality increasing with CO(2) concentration. Our results show that additional CO(2) absorbed into the ocean will reduce recruitment success and have far-reaching consequences for the sustainability of fish populations.
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Differing mechanisms underlie sexual size-dimorphism in two populations of a sex-changing fish.
PLoS ONE
PUBLISHED: 04-12-2010
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Variability in the density of groups within a patchy environment lead to differences in interaction rates, growth dynamics and social organization. In protogynous hermaphrodites there are hypothesised trade-offs among sex-specific growth, reproductive output and mortality. When differences in density lead to changes to social organization the link between growth and the timing of sex-change is predicted to change. The present study explores this prediction by comparing the social organisation and sex-specific growth of two populations of a protogynous tropical wrasse, Halichoeres miniatus, which differ in density. At a low density population a strict harem structure was found, where males maintained a tight monopoly of access and spawning rights to females. In contrast, at a high density population a loosely organised system prevailed, where females could move throughout multiple male territories. Otolith microstructure revealed the species to be annual and deposit an otolith check associated with sex-change. Growth trajectories suggested that individuals that later became males in both populations underwent a growth acceleration at sex-change. Moreover, in the high density population, individuals that later became males were those individuals that had the largest otolith size at hatching and consistently deposited larger increments throughout early larval, juvenile and female life. This study demonstrates that previous growth history and growth rate changes associated with sex change can be responsible for the sexual dimorphism typically found in sex-changing species, and that the relative importance of these may be socially constrained.
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Counter-gradient variation in respiratory performance of coral reef fishes at elevated temperatures.
PLoS ONE
PUBLISHED: 04-08-2010
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The response of species to global warming depends on how different populations are affected by increasing temperature throughout the species geographic range. Local adaptation to thermal gradients could cause populations in different parts of the range to respond differently. In aquatic systems, keeping pace with increased oxygen demand is the key parameter affecting species response to higher temperatures. Therefore, respiratory performance is expected to vary between populations at different latitudes because they experience different thermal environments. We tested for geographical variation in respiratory performance of tropical marine fishes by comparing thermal effects on resting and maximum rates of oxygen uptake for six species of coral reef fish at two locations on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), Australia. The two locations, Heron Island and Lizard Island, are separated by approximately 1200 km along a latitudinal gradient. We found strong counter-gradient variation in aerobic scope between locations in four species from two families (Pomacentridae and Apogonidae). High-latitude populations (Heron Island, southern GBR) performed significantly better than low-latitude populations (Lizard Island, northern GBR) at temperatures up to 5°C above average summer surface-water temperature. The other two species showed no difference in aerobic scope between locations. Latitudinal variation in aerobic scope was primarily driven by up to 80% higher maximum rates of oxygen uptake in the higher latitude populations. Our findings suggest that compensatory mechanisms in high-latitude populations enhance their performance at extreme temperatures, and consequently, that high-latitude populations of reef fishes will be less impacted by ocean warming than will low-latitude populations.
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Effects of elevated temperature on coral reef fishes: loss of hypoxia tolerance and inability to acclimate.
Comp. Biochem. Physiol., Part A Mol. Integr. Physiol.
PUBLISHED: 01-21-2010
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Water temperature is expected to rise on coral reefs due to global warming. Here, we have examined if increased temperature reduces the hypoxia tolerance of coral reef fish (measured as critical [O(2)]), and if temperature acclimation in adults can change the resting rate of O(2) consumption and critical [O(2)]. Two common species from Lizard Island (Great Barrier Reef, Australia) were tested, Doederleins cardinalfish (Ostorhinchus doederleini) and lemon damselfish (Pomacentrus moluccensis). In both species, a 3 degrees C rise in water temperature caused increased oxygen consumption and reduced hypoxia tolerance, changes that were not reduced by acclimation to the higher temperature for 7 to 22 days. Critical [O(2)] increased by 71% in the cardinalfish and by 23% in the damselfish at 32 degrees C compared to 29 degrees C. The higher oxygen needs are likely to reduce the aerobic scope, which could negatively affect the capacity for feeding, growth and reproduction. The reduced hypoxia tolerance may force the fishes out of their nocturnal shelters in the coral matrix, exposing them to predation. The consequences for population and species survival could be severe unless developmental phenotypic plasticity within generations or genetic adaptation between generations could produce individuals that are more tolerant to a warmer future.
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Ocean acidification disrupts the innate ability of fish to detect predator olfactory cues.
Ecol. Lett.
PUBLISHED: 11-16-2009
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While ocean acidification is predicted to threaten marine biodiversity, the processes that directly impact species persistence are not well understood. For marine species, early life history stages are inherently vulnerable to predators and an innate ability to detect predators can be critical for survival. However, whether or not acidification inhibits predator detection is unknown. Here, we show that newly hatched larvae of the marine fish Amphiprion percula innately detect predators using olfactory cues and this ability is retained through to settlement. Aquarium-reared larvae, not previously exposed to predators, were able to distinguish between the olfactory cues of predatory and non-predatory species. However, when eggs and larvae were exposed to seawater simulating ocean acidification (pH 7.8 and 1000 p.p.m. CO2) settlement-stage larvae became strongly attracted to the smell of predators and the ability to discriminate between predators and non-predators was lost. Newly hatched larvae were unaffected by CO2 exposure and were still able to distinguish between predatory and non-predatory fish. If this impairment of olfactory preferences in settlement-stage larvae translates to higher mortality as a result of increased predation risk, there could be direct consequences for the replenishment and the sustainability of marine populations.
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Effects of ocean acidification on the early life history of a tropical marine fish.
Proc. Biol. Sci.
PUBLISHED: 06-25-2009
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Little is known about how fishes and other non-calcifying marine organisms will respond to the increased levels of dissolved CO(2) and reduced sea water pH that are predicted to occur over the coming century. We reared eggs and larvae of the orange clownfish, Amphiprion percula, in sea water simulating a range of ocean acidification scenarios for the next 50-100 years (current day, 550, 750 and 1030 ppm atmospheric CO(2)). CO(2) acidification had no detectable effect on embryonic duration, egg survival and size at hatching. In contrast, CO(2) acidification tended to increase the growth rate of larvae. By the time of settlement (11 days post-hatching), larvae from some parental pairs were 15 to 18 per cent longer and 47 to 52 per cent heavier in acidified water compared with controls. Larvae from other parents were unaffected by CO(2) acidification. Elevated CO(2) and reduced pH had no effect on the maximum swimming speed of settlement-stage larvae. There was, however, a weak positive relationship between length and swimming speed. Large size is usually considered to be advantageous for larvae and newly settled juveniles. Consequently, these results suggest that levels of ocean acidification likely to be experienced in the near future might not, in isolation, significantly disadvantage the growth and performance of larvae from benthic-spawning marine fishes.
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Ocean acidification impairs olfactory discrimination and homing ability of a marine fish.
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A.
PUBLISHED: 02-02-2009
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The persistence of most coastal marine species depends on larvae finding suitable adult habitat at the end of an offshore dispersive stage that can last weeks or months. We tested the effects that ocean acidification from elevated levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO(2)) could have on the ability of larvae to detect olfactory cues from adult habitats. Larval clownfish reared in control seawater (pH 8.15) discriminated between a range of cues that could help them locate reef habitat and suitable settlement sites. This discriminatory ability was disrupted when larvae were reared in conditions simulating CO(2)-induced ocean acidification. Larvae became strongly attracted to olfactory stimuli they normally avoided when reared at levels of ocean pH that could occur ca. 2100 (pH 7.8) and they no longer responded to any olfactory cues when reared at pH levels (pH 7.6) that might be attained later next century on a business-as-usual carbon-dioxide emissions trajectory. If acidification continues unabated, the impairment of sensory ability will reduce population sustainability of many marine species, with potentially profound consequences for marine diversity.
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Towards improved socio-economic assessments of ocean acidifications impacts.
Mar. Biol.
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Ocean acidification is increasingly recognized as a component of global change that could have a wide range of impacts on marine organisms, the ecosystems they live in, and the goods and services they provide humankind. Assessment of these potential socio-economic impacts requires integrated efforts between biologists, chemists, oceanographers, economists and social scientists. But because ocean acidification is a new research area, significant knowledge gaps are preventing economists from estimating its welfare impacts. For instance, economic data on the impact of ocean acidification on significant markets such as fisheries, aquaculture and tourism are very limited (if not non-existent), and non-market valuation studies on this topic are not yet available. Our paper summarizes the current understanding of future OA impacts and sets out what further information is required for economists to assess socio-economic impacts of ocean acidification. Our aim is to provide clear directions for multidisciplinary collaborative research.
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Concordance between genetic and species diversity in coral reef fishes across the Pacific Ocean biodiversity gradient.
Evolution
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The relationship between genetic diversity and species diversity provides insights into biogeography and historic patterns of evolution and is critical for developing contemporary strategies for biodiversity conservation. Although concordant large-scale clines in genetic and species diversity have been described for terrestrial organisms, whether these parameters co-vary in marine species remains largely unknown. We examined patterns of genetic diversity for 11 coral reef fish species sampled at three locations across the Pacific Ocean species diversity gradient (Australia: ?1600 species; New Caledonia: ?1400 species; French Polynesia: ?800 species). Combined genetic diversity for all 11 species paralleled the decline in species diversity from West to East, with French Polynesia exhibiting lowest total haplotype and nucleotide diversities. Haplotype diversity consistently declined toward French Polynesia in all and nucleotide diversity in the majority of species. The French Polynesian population of most species also exhibited significant genetic differentiation from populations in the West Pacific. A number of factors may have contributed to the general positive correlation between genetic and species diversity, including location and time of species origin, vicariance events, reduced gene flow with increasing isolation, and decreasing habitat area from West to East. However, isolation and habitat area, resulting in reduced population size, are likely to be the most influential.
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Specialization in habitat use by coral reef damselfishes and their susceptibility to habitat loss.
Ecol Evol
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While it is generally assumed that specialist species are more vulnerable to disturbance compared with generalist counterparts, this has rarely been tested in coastal marine ecosystems, which are increasingly subject to a wide range of natural and anthropogenic disturbances. Habitat specialists are expected to be more vulnerable to habitat loss because habitat availability exerts a greater limitation on population size, but it is also possible that specialist species may escape effects of disturbance if they use habitats that are generally resilient to disturbance. This study quantified specificity in use of different coral species by six coral-dwelling damselfishes (Chromis viridis, C. atripectoralis, Dascyllus aruanus, D. reticulatus, Pomacentrus moluccensis, and P. amboinensis) and related habitat specialization to proportional declines in their abundance following habitat degradation caused by outbreaks of the coral eating starfish, Acanthaster planci. The coral species preferred by most coral-dwelling damselfishes (e.g., Pocillopora damicornis) were frequently consumed by coral eating crown-of-thorns starfish, such that highly specialized damselfishes were disproportionately affected by coral depletion, despite using a narrower range of different coral species. Vulnerability of damselfishes to this disturbance was strongly correlated with both their reliance on corals and their degree of habitat specialization. Ongoing disturbances to coral reef ecosystems are expected, therefore, to lead to fundamental shifts in the community structure of fish communities where generalists are favored over highly specialist species.
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Prey selectivity affects reproductive success of a corallivorous reef fish.
Oecologia
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Most animals consume a narrower range of food resources than is potentially available in the environment, but the underlying basis for these preferences is often poorly understood. Foraging theory predicts that prey selection should represent a trade-off between prey preferences based on nutritional value and prey availability. That is, species should consume preferred prey when available, but select less preferred prey when preferred prey is rare. We employed both field observation and laboratory experiments to examine the relationship between prey selection and preferences in the obligate coral-feeding filefish, Oxymonacanthus longirostris. To determine the drivers of prey selection, we experimentally established prey preferences in choice arenas and tested the consequences of prey preferences for key fitness-related parameters. Field studies showed that individuals fed almost exclusively on live corals from the genus Acropora. While diet was dominated by the most abundant species, Acropora nobilis, fish appeared to preferentially select rarer acroporids, such as A. millepora and A. hyacinthus. Prey choice experiments confirmed strong preferences for these corals, suggesting that field consumption is constrained by availability. In a longer-term feeding experiment, reproductive pairs fed on non-preferred corals exhibited dramatic reductions to body weight, and in hepatic and gonad condition, compared with those fed preferred corals. The majority of pairs fed preferred corals spawned frequently, while no spawning was observed for any pairs fed a non-preferred species of coral. These experiments suggest that fish distinguish between available corals based on their intrinsic value as prey, that reproductive success is dependent on the presence of particular coral species, and that differential loss of preferred corals could have serious consequences for the population success of these dietary specialists.
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Impact of global warming and rising CO2 levels on coral reef fishes: what hope for the future?
J. Exp. Biol.
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Average sea-surface temperature and the amount of CO(2) dissolved in the ocean are rising as a result of increasing concentrations of atmospheric CO(2). Many coral reef fishes appear to be living close to their thermal optimum, and for some of them, even relatively moderate increases in temperature (2-4°C) lead to significant reductions in aerobic scope. Reduced aerobic capacity could affect population sustainability because less energy can be devoted to feeding and reproduction. Coral reef fishes seem to have limited capacity to acclimate to elevated temperature as adults, but recent research shows that developmental and transgenerational plasticity occur, which might enable some species to adjust to rising ocean temperatures. Predicted increases in P(CO(2)), and associated ocean acidification, can also influence the aerobic scope of coral reef fishes, although there is considerable interspecific variation, with some species exhibiting a decline and others an increase in aerobic scope at near-future CO(2) levels. As with thermal effects, there are transgenerational changes in response to elevated CO(2) that could mitigate impacts of high CO(2) on the growth and survival of reef fishes. An unexpected discovery is that elevated CO(2) has a dramatic effect on a wide range of behaviours and sensory responses of reef fishes, with consequences for the timing of settlement, habitat selection, predator avoidance and individual fitness. The underlying physiological mechanism appears to be the interference of acid-base regulatory processes with brain neurotransmitter function. Differences in the sensitivity of species and populations to global warming and rising CO(2) have been identified that will lead to changes in fish community structure as the oceans warm and becomes more acidic; however, the prospect for acclimation and adaptation of populations to these threats also needs to be considered. Ultimately, it will be the capacity for species to adjust to environmental change over coming decades that will determine the impact of climate change on marine ecosystems.
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High CO? and marine animal behaviour: potential mechanisms and ecological consequences.
Mar. Pollut. Bull.
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Exposure to pollution and environmental change can alter the behaviour of aquatic animals and here we review recent evidence that exposure to elevated CO? and reduced sea water pH alters the behaviour of tropical reef fish and hermit crabs. Three main routes through which behaviour might be altered are discussed; elevated metabolic load, info-disruption and avoidance behaviour away from polluted locations. There is clear experimental evidence that exposure to high CO? disrupts the ability to find settlement sites and shelters, the ability to detect predators and the ability to detect prey and food. In marine vertebrates and marine crustaceans behavioural change appears to occur via info-disruption. In hermit crabs and other crustaceans impairment of performance capacities might also play a role. We discuss the implications for such behavioural changes in terms of potential impacts at the levels of population health and ecosystem services, and consider future directions for research.
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Thermal sensitivity does not determine acclimation capacity for a tropical reef fish.
J Anim Ecol
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1. Short-term measures of metabolic responses to warmer environments are expected to indicate the sensitivity of species to regional warming. However, given time, species may be able to acclimate to increasing temperature. Thus, it is useful to determine if short-term responses provide a good predictor for long-term acclimation ability. 2. The tropical reef fish Acanthochromis polyacanthus was used to test whether the ability for developmental thermal acclimation of two populations was indicated by their short-term metabolic response to temperature. 3. While both populations exhibited similar short-term responses of resting metabolic rate (RMR) to temperature, fish from the higher-latitude population were able to fully acclimate RMR, while the lower-latitude population could only partially compensate RMR at the warmest temperature. These differences in acclimation ability are most likely due to genetic differences between the populations rather than differences in thermal regimes. 4. This research indicates that acclimation ability may vary greatly between populations and that understanding such variation will be critical for predicting the impacts of warming environmental temperatures. Moreover, the thermal metabolic reaction norm does not appear to be a good predictor of long-term acclimation ability.
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Effects of ocean acidification on learning in coral reef fishes.
PLoS ONE
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Ocean acidification has the potential to cause dramatic changes in marine ecosystems. Larval damselfish exposed to concentrations of CO(2) predicted to occur in the mid- to late-century show maladaptive responses to predator cues. However, there is considerable variation both within and between species in CO(2) effects, whereby some individuals are unaffected at particular CO(2) concentrations while others show maladaptive responses to predator odour. Our goal was to test whether learning via chemical or visual information would be impaired by ocean acidification and ultimately, whether learning can mitigate the effects of ocean acidification by restoring the appropriate responses of prey to predators. Using two highly efficient and widespread mechanisms for predator learning, we compared the behaviour of pre-settlement damselfish Pomacentrus amboinensis that were exposed to 440 µatm CO(2) (current day levels) or 850 µatm CO(2), a concentration predicted to occur in the ocean before the end of this century. We found that, regardless of the method of learning, damselfish exposed to elevated CO(2) failed to learn to respond appropriately to a common predator, the dottyback, Pseudochromis fuscus. To determine whether the lack of response was due to a failure in learning or rather a short-term shift in trade-offs preventing the fish from displaying overt antipredator responses, we conditioned 440 or 700 µatm-CO(2) fish to learn to recognize a dottyback as a predator using injured conspecific cues, as in Experiment 1. When tested one day post-conditioning, CO(2) exposed fish failed to respond to predator odour. When tested 5 days post-conditioning, CO(2) exposed fish still failed to show an antipredator response to the dottyback odour, despite the fact that both control and CO(2)-treated fish responded to a general risk cue (injured conspecific cues). These results indicate that exposure to CO(2) may alter the cognitive ability of juvenile fish and render learning ineffective.
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Aerobic versus anaerobic scope: sibling species of fish indicate that temperature dependence of hypoxia tolerance can predict future survival.
Glob Chang Biol
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The temperature dependence of aerobic scope has been suggested to be a major determinant of how marine animals will cope with future rises in environmental temperature. Here we present data suggesting that in some animals, the temperature dependence of anaerobic scope (i.e. the capacity for surviving severe hypoxia) may determine present-day latitudinal distributions and potential for persistence in a warmer future. As a model for investigating the role of anaerobic scope, we studied two sibling species of coral-dwelling gobies, Gobiodon histrio and G. erythrospilus, with different latitudinal distributions, but which overlap in equal abundance at Lizard Island (14°40S) on the Great Barrier Reef. These species did not differ in the temperature dependence of resting oxygen consumption or critical oxygen concentration (the lowest oxygen level where resting oxygen consumption can be maintained). By contrast, the more equatorial species (G. histrio) had a better capacity to endure anaerobic conditions at oxygen levels below the critical oxygen concentration at the high temperatures (32 - 33 °C) more likely to occur near the equator, or in a warmer future. These results suggest that anaerobic scope, in addition to aerobic scope, could be important in determining the impacts of global warming on some marine animals. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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In developing our video relationships, we compare around 5 million PubMed articles to our library of over 4,500 methods videos. In some cases the language used in the PubMed abstracts makes matching that content to a JoVE video difficult. In other cases, there happens not to be any content in our video library that is relevant to the topic of a given abstract. In these cases, our algorithms are trying their best to display videos with relevant content, which can sometimes result in matched videos with only a slight relation.