Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Coral Reef Fishes Prove Invaluable in the Study of Evolutionary Ecology

22.05.2013
Study of habitat-specialist coral reef species yields new insights about animal social systems

After reviewing recent research based on the study of habitat-specialist coral reef fishes, Boston University post-doctoral researcher Marian Y. L. Wong and Peter M. Buston, assistant professor of biology, have found that these species have proven invaluable for experimental testing of key concepts in social evolution, noting that studies of these fishes already have yielded insights about the ultimate reasons for female reproductive suppression, group living, and bidirectional sex change.

Based on this impressive track record, the researchers maintain that these fishes should be the focus of future tests of key concepts in evolutionary ecology. Their findings are published in an article titled “Social Systems in Habitat-Specialist Reef Fishes: Key Concepts in Evolutionary Ecology” in the June 2013 issue of the journal BioScience (BioScience 63: 453–463. ISSN 0006-3568, electronic ISSN 1525-3244; www.ucpressjournals.com/reprintinfo.asp. doi:10.1525/bio.2013.63.6.7)

A major focus in evolutionary ecology lies in explaining the evolution and maintenance of social systems. Although most theoretical formulations of social system evolution were initially inspired by studies of birds, mammals, and insects, incorporating a wider taxonomic perspective is important for testing deeply entrenched theory. In their new study, the researchers suggest that habitat-specialist coral reef fishes provide that wider perspective.

“While such coral reef fishes are ecologically similar, they display remarkable variation in mating systems, social organization, and sex allocation strategies,” says Wong. “Our review of recent research clearly shows the amenability of these fishes for experimental testing of key concepts in social evolution.”

The new study highlights recent contributions made by one specific group of coral reef fishes—habitat-specialist reef fishes—to testing the robustness of mating system, cooperative breeding, and sex allocation theories. Habitat-specialist reef fishes are small bodied and well adapted to living within discrete patches of coral, anemones, and sponges. They include such species as the Pomacentridae (damselfish), Gobiidae (goby), Caracanthidae (coral croucher), and Cirrhitidae (hawkfish) families.

Being habitat specialists, these fishes are highly site attached and have limited mobility. They rely on their particular habitat for food, shelter, and breeding sites, and they experience high risks of mortality from predation if they venture outside their immediate habitat. Mating systems are highly variable both among and within these species, including monogamy (one male mates with one female), harem polygyny (one male mates with several females), and polygynandry (multiple males and females mate with each other). These fishes also exhibit great variability in social organization, including pair and group formation, with group members’ being reproductive or non-reproductive depending on the mating system. “This behavioral variability, despite the relative ecological similarity of these species, presents a unique opportunity to test the various hypotheses for the evolution of different social systems,” says Buston.

According to the authors, habitat-specialist reef fishes are a tried and tested group of model organisms for advancing the understanding of the evolution and ecology of social systems in animals; the study of these species already has revealed many things about the evolutionary ecology of mating, social, and sexual systems. Despite their ecological quirkiness, they have been instrumental for testing the generality and robustness of key concepts that are widely applicable to other taxonomic groups. In fact, in some cases, they have been the only species in which experimental tests of key hypotheses have been performed, largely because of the ease with which their habitat and social organization can be manipulated in the lab and in the field. For these reasons, the authors argue that these species should be the focus of future tests of key concepts in evolutionary ecology.

About Boston University—Founded in 1839, Boston University is an internationally recognized private research university with more than 30,000 students participating in undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs. As Boston University’s largest academic division, the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences is the heart of the BU experience with a global reach that enhances the University’s reputation for teaching and research. In 2012, BU joined the Association of American Universities (AAU), a consortium of 62 leading research universities in the United States and Canada.

Marian Wong | Newswise
Further information:
http://www.uow.edu.au

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Global threat to primates concerns us all
19.01.2017 | Deutsches Primatenzentrum GmbH - Leibniz-Institut für Primatenforschung

nachricht Reducing household waste with less energy
18.01.2017 | FIZ Karlsruhe – Leibniz-Institut für Informationsinfrastruktur GmbH

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>