Elevated CO<inf>2</inf>affects the behavior of an ecologically and economically important coral reef fish

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Marine Biology, 2013, 160 (8), pp. 2137 - 2144
Issue Date:
2013-08-01
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We tested the effect of near-future CO 2 levels (≈490, 570, 700, and 960 μatm CO 2 ) on the olfactory responses and activity levels of juvenile coral trout, Plectropomus leopardus, a piscivorous reef fish that is also one of the most important fisheries species on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Juvenile coral trout reared for 4 weeks at 570 μatm CO 2 exhibited similar sensory responses and behaviors to juveniles reared at 490 μatm CO 2 (control). In contrast, juveniles reared at 700 and 960 μatm CO 2 exhibited dramatically altered sensory function and behaviors. At these higher CO 2 concentrations, juveniles became attracted to the odor of potential predators, as has been observed in other reef fishes. They were more active, spent less time in shelter, ventured further from shelter, and we re bolder than fish reared at 490 or 570 μatm CO 2 . These results demonstrate that behavioral impairment of coral trout is unlikely if pCO 2 remains below 600 μatm; however, at higher levels, there are significant impacts on juvenile performance that are likely to affect survival and energy budgets, with consequences for predator-prey interactions and commercial fisheries. © 2012 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.
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