Pre-settlement coral-reef fish larvae respond to magnetic field changes during the day.

Publication Type:
Journal Article
J Exp Biol, 2017, 220 (Pt 16), pp. 2874 - 2877
Issue Date:
Full metadata record
Files in This Item:
Filename Description Size
2874.full.pdfPublished Version354.2 kB
Adobe PDF
Observations of coral-reef fish larvae have revealed remarkably consistent orientation behaviour while swimming offshore, requiring large-scale orientation cues. However, the mechanisms underlying this behaviour are still being investigated. One potential large-scale cue for orientation is the Earth's geomagnetic field. Here, we examined the effect of magnetic field manipulations on the orientation behaviour of coral-reef fish during the pelagic larval phase. In the absence of visual cues, individual larvae responded to a 90 deg shift of the horizontal component of the magnetic field within a Helmholtz coil with a comparable shift in orientation, demonstrating that they use a magnetic compass for orientation. Our findings suggest that geomagnetic field information guides swimming behaviour of larval fish in the pre-settlement phase. The ability to use large-scale sensory cues allows location-independent orientation of swimming, a behaviour that influences dispersal and connectivity of fish populations, which has important ecological implications for anthropogenic development of marine areas.
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: