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College of Wooster

Publication Date

Fall 2017

Program Name

Panama: Tropical Ecology, Marine Ecosystems, and Biodiversity Conservation


The invasion of Pterois volitans along the Atlantic coast of the Americas is one of the top marine conservation issues of the century. Prey naïveté has been suggested as a mechanism for the success of P. volitans, but conclusive field observations have not been completed. This study tested for prey naïveté in situ by comparing time spent by Pomacentridae and Tetraodontidae in close proximity to P. volitans and a native predator, Cephalopholis cruentata. Difference in time spent by Pomacentridae and Tetraodontidae in the presence of the two predators was observed. The predators P. volitans and C. cruentata were sequentially observed for ten-minute-long periods in the morning and evening on two coral reefs near El Porvenir over the course of a week in November 2017. It was found that Pomacentridae and Tetraodontidae were naïve to P. volitans, spending significantly more time in their presence than C. cruentata (MP = 232.48, SDP = 177.73; MC = 38.21, SDC = 42.05). A new action pattern was observed in which P. volitans appeared to lure Tetraodontidae using their pectoral and dorsal fins. It was also found that cloud cover and presence of Serranidae did not have an observable effect on P. volitans predator-prey interactions (MCloudy = 57.59, SDCloudy = 93.60; MClear = 110.54, SDClear = 142.82). This information supports previous studies on prey naïveté in P. volitans and provides an ecological overview of feeding ecology and behavior.


Animal Sciences | Aquaculture and Fisheries | Biology | Environmental Health | Marine Biology | Other Animal Sciences | Zoology



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