Determining how surroundings impact abundance and behavior of the yellow Atlantic trumpetfish Aulostomus maculatus phenotype

The use of color is seen throughout the animal kingdom. In coral reef ecosystems, organism colorations are suggested to assist in behaviors such as camouflaging and communication among schooling fish. The long and slender Atlantic trumpetfish, Aulostomus maculatus, is suggested to take advantage of both bright and neutral color schemes on the Caribbean reefs. This species has three known colorations, or phenotypes, that all exist on the reef of the island Bonaire, Dutch Caribbean: the yellow, blueheaded, and mottled phenotypes. The mottled camouflages easily into their surroundings, the blueheaded can change the color of its head in different surroundings, and the yellow is more brightly colored than most of the substrate on the reef. This study hypothesized that there would be a strong association between bright reef fish and the hunting behaviors of the bright yellow phenotype. To observe how coloration and surroundings may influence the abundance of the yellow A. maculatus in particular, a total of 1600 m2 of abundance surveys for two phenotypes of trumpetfish and associating fish were conducted. Behavioral observations of six fish of each phenotype were conducted to examine links between coloration, surroundings, and behavior. While no links were found between coloration, surroundings and abundance, several significant links were found between coloration, surroundings, and behavior. There are a variety of factors that can affect the behavior of coral reef fishes; the data this study has collected suggests that the relationship between coloration of species and surroundings is one of these factors for the Atlantic trumpetfish

This student research was retrieved from Physis: Journal of Marine Science XVII (Spring 2015)19: 69-79 from CIEE Bonaire.

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