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A differential prey response to invasive lionfish, Pterois volitans: Prey naiveté and risk-sensitive courtship

Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology
DOI: 10.1016/j.jembe.2014.06.002
  • Invasive Predator
  • Predator Recognition
  • Prey Naiveté
  • Pterois Volitans
  • Risk-Sensitive Courtship
  • Stegastes Leucostictus


Abstract The assimilation of behavioral and evolutionary processes into conservation management provides insights into how invasive predators affect native fauna. The Indo-Pacific lionfish (Pterois volitans) has caused extensive reduction in the abundance of small-bodied reef fish within their introduced range. One possible mechanism facilitating this high predation rate may be due to prey exhibiting evolutionary naiveté toward this invasive predator. Here, we tested for the potential role of prey naiveté by examining the behavioral response of a prey species, the beaugregory damselfish (Stegastes leucostictus), toward this invasive predator. Damselfish demonstrated invasive predator recognition and subsequent anti-predator behavior, which may attenuate the impact posed by this invasive predator. However, damselfish under predation threat failed to modulate courtship behavior in the presence of lionfish. Therefore, benefits derived from the ability to recognize and respond appropriately to lionfish may be of little consequence if damselfish are unable to curtail high-risk courtship behavior in their presence.

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