Experiments with two species of young damselfish on Australia's Great Barrier Reef have shown for the first time that some reef fish are either consistently timid, or consistently bold, and that these individual differences are even more marked as water temperatures rise.
A slight lift of just one or two degrees may have only a small effect on some fish but the behaviour of others can be transformed – leading them to become up to 30 times more active and aggressive.
"The idea that fish have personalities may seem surprising at first, but we now know that personality is common in animal populations, and that this phenomenon may have far-reaching implications for understanding how animals respond to ecological and environmental challenges," says Dr Peter Biro, of the UNSW School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, who led the study with colleagues Christa Beckmann and Judy A. Stamps. It is published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
"Our results also suggest that temperature variations are much more significant than we thought in the way they affect the behaviours of individual animals. This needs to be taken into account for scientific studies of other cold-blooded animals, or ectotherms, such as reptiles and amphibians.
"For instance, individual variations in activity and boldness can affect food acquisition, encounter rates with predators and even the likelihood of an individual being captured by sampling or harvesting gear.
"We observed that most of the individuals in our experiments were very responsive to changes in temperature, dramatically increasing their levels of activity, boldness and aggressiveness as a function of increases of only a few degrees of temperature. Fish would experience such temperature fluctuations during the course of a normal day."
The scientists used fish that were captured just as they were ending their larval stage in open water and had not yet settled onto the reef, and so were naive to social hustle and bustle of reef fish life. They then directly manipulated water temperatures in laboratory tanks at Lizard Island Research station.
Placed by themselves in tanks, the fish were free to explore or to take refuge in a short piece of plastic pipe. The scientists observed how far and how often the fish ventured from the pipe. In cooler water, individual fish differed greatly in their activity levels. They all became more active to varying degrees when the water was warmed, with some becoming up to 30 times more active, bold and aggressive.
Dr Biro recently joined the Faculty as a recipient of one of seven Australian Research Council Future Fellowships awarded to UNSW. The Australian Government created the fellowships to promote research in areas of critical national importance to attract and retain the best and brightest mid-career researchers to work in Australia.
Dr Peter Biro | EurekAlert!
International network connects experimental research in European waters
21.03.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)
World Water Day 2017: It doesn’t Always Have to Be Drinking Water – Using Wastewater as a Resource
17.03.2017 | ISOE - Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy