Scuba Diver Australasia + Ocean Planet - - Briefing -

Fish feed more when they are sur­rounded by other fish, says a new study pub­lished in the Pro­ceed­ings of the Na­tional Acad­emy of Sciences.

Re­searchers made a de­tailed and com­plex anal­y­sis of fishes’ be­hav­iour on a num­ber of sites in French Poly­ne­sia, and found that they not only grazed more when there were other fish present, but that some ac­tiv­i­ties (such as move­ment be­tween patches of reef) were in­flu­enced by the be­hav­iour of other fish.

The study drew two im­por­tant con­clu­sions: One, fish ap­pear to feel that they are safer from preda­tors when there are larger num­bers of other fish in the area; and two, “copy­cat” be­hav­iours are im­por­tant driv­ers of piscine ac­tiv­ity.

Her­biv­o­rous fish play a vi­tal role on the reef, keep­ing turf al­gae in check. This new re­search sheds light on just how nec­es­sary com­plex and healthy fish pop­u­la­tions are for a healthy reef.

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