Coral reef communities are susceptible to anthropogenic disturbance by visitors, such as SCUBA divers. Divers can also have an effect on the behavior of reef fish, which can lead to changes in activities or habituation. This effect was examined by focusing on two species of prawn gobies, Amblyeleotris steinitzi and A. sungami, at sites in Eilat, Israel. Gobies at both undived and heavily dived sites were disturbed and the time taken for re-emergence after disappearing (latency period) was measured. The flight initiation distances (FID), the distance at which the fish fled from an approaching threat, was also measured. It was hypothesized that reactions to disturbances would be less for the gobies accustomed to diver disturbance. Results showed that in anthropogenically disturbed areas, gobies had shorter latency periods than in undisturbed areas. FID were also significantly shorter. One of the undived sites, a steep gravel slope that experiences natural disturbance in the form of rolling gravel, showed the same trend of a short average latency period. Gobies at anthropogenically disturbed sites adapted their behavior to diver disturbance.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Aquatic Science