Haley, Michael P.; Müller, Christian R.
Author Affiliation, Ana.
Centre for Marine Sciences
Territorial behaviour of beaugregory damselfish (Stegastes leucostictus) in response to egg predators
Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology
Date of Publication
To test the hypothesis that territorial male beaugregory damselfish (Stegastes leucostictus) can assess the degree of threat from egg predators. The aggressive behaviour of both males guarding eggs and males without eggs was recorded when they were presented with either one or five individuals of the wrasse egg predator Thalassoma bifasciatum. Presentations were made in a clear plastic bottle 0.5 m from artificial beaugregory breeding sites in the field. Two measures of aggressive behaviour (downhead threats and time spent within 10 cm of the presentation bottle) were significantly greater for multiple wrasse presentations than for single wrasse presentations, while a third measure (chase attempts) was not. In contrast, chase attempts were significantly greater for males guarding eggs than for males without eggs, but there was no significant difference in the level of downhead threats or bottle proximity time for this comparison. Levels of the three aggressive measures were not correlated with either the amount of eggs or the number of egg clutches present. These results indicate that territorial male beaugregories respond to an increase in the number of intruding egg predators by increasing the levels of low-cost threat behaviour, while the presence (but not the amount) of aggs results in an increase in the amount of higher cost attack behaviour. These experiments, therefore, support the hypothesis that male beaugregories can assess the degree of threat from egg predators, and indicate that they use this assessment to alter the strategies used in territorial defence.....