Coral Reefs

, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 103–108 | Cite as

Enhanced fast-start performance and anti-predator behaviour in a coral reef fish in response to suspended sediment exposure

  • Sybille HessEmail author
  • Bridie J. M. Allan
  • Andrew S. Hoey
  • Michael D. Jarrold
  • Amelia S. Wenger
  • Jodie L. Rummer


Declining water quality, in particular elevated suspended sediments, poses a significant threat to coastal coral reefs. We exposed juvenile anemonefish (Amphiprion melanopus) to two suspended sediment concentrations (0 or 180 mg L−1) for 7 d and examined their predator escape performance and anti-predator behaviour in both clear water and suspended sediments (0 and 180 mg L−1, i.e. acute exposure). After 7-d exposure to suspended sediments, fish responded faster to a mechanical stimulus and exhibited enhanced fast starts compared to individuals reared in clear water, regardless of acute exposure. Fish were also less active and avoided open areas when exposed to elevated suspended sediments in the test arena when compared to clear water, irrespective of prior 7-d exposure. While these changes are likely strategies to compensate for an increased perceived predation risk in suspended sediments, they may also be associated with non-consumptive costs for juveniles living on turbid reefs.


Suspended solids Sub-lethal effects Predator–prey interactions Turbidity Fish health 



We thank the team at MARFU, Ross Barrett and Sue Reilly for their technical support.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This research has been conducted according to the Australian code for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes and has been approved by the Animal Ethics Committee at James Cook University (animal ethics approval number A2218).

Supplementary material

338_2018_1757_MOESM1_ESM.docx (398 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 399 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef StudiesTownsvilleAustralia
  2. 2.College of Science and EngineeringJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Marine ScienceUniversity of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand
  4. 4.School of Earth and Environmental SciencesUniversity of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

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