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Living in a risky world: the onset and ontogeny of an integrated antipredator phenotype in a coral reef fish
Ferrari, M.C.O.; McCormick, M.I.; Allan, B.J.M.; Choi, R.; Ramasamy, R.A.; Johansen, J.; Mitchell, M.D.; Chivers, D.P. (2015). Living in a risky world: the onset and ontogeny of an integrated antipredator phenotype in a coral reef fish. NPG Scientific Reports 5(15537): 13 pp.
In: Scientific Reports (Nature Publishing Group). Nature Publishing Group: London. ISSN 2045-2322; e-ISSN 2045-2322, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Ferrari, M.C.O.
  • McCormick, M.I.
  • Allan, B.J.M.
  • Choi, R.
  • Ramasamy, R.A.
  • Johansen, J.
  • Mitchell, M.D.
  • Chivers, D.P.

    Prey individuals with complex life-histories often cannot predict the type of risk environment to which they will be exposed at each of their life stages. Because the level of investment in defences should match local risk conditions, we predict that these individuals should have the ability to modulate the expression of an integrated defensive phenotype, but this switch in expression should occur at key life-history transitions. We manipulated background level of risk in juvenile damselfish for four days following settlement (a key life-history transition) or 10 days post-settlement, and measured a suite of physiological and behavioural variables over 2 weeks. We found that settlement-stage fish exposed to high-risk conditions displayed behavioural and physiological alterations consistent with high-risk phenotypes, which gave them a survival advantage when exposed to predators. These changes were maintained for at least 2 weeks. The same exposure in post-settlement fish failed to elicit a change in some traits, while the expression of other traits disappeared within a week. Our results are consistent with those expected from phenotypic resonance. Expression of antipredator traits may be masked if individuals are not exposed to certain conditions at key ontogenetic stages.

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