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MEPS
Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 616:219-224 (2019)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12931

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Species and sexual differences in human-oriented behavior of anemonefish at Okinawa Island, Japan

Kina Hayashi1,*, Katsunori Tachihara1, James Davis Reimer1,2

1Graduate School of Engineering and Science, University of the Ryukyus, 1 Senbaru, Nishihara, Okinawa 903-0213, Japan
2Tropical Biosphere Research Center, University of the Ryukyus, 1 Senbaru, Nishihara, Okinawa 903-0213, Japan
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Anemonefish are one of the most popular and frequently encountered fish groups by divers, and it is necessary to know how the approaches of humans affect them to maintain a balance between utilization and conservation in coral reefs. Agonistic behaviors toward divers were analyzed for 130 individuals of 4 species of anemonefish (Amphiprion ocellaris, A. clarkii, A. perideraion, and A. frenatus) on the west coast of Okinawa Island, Japan. Divers’ approaches differently affected each species of anemonefish, even though the fish inhabited the same area. The duration of agonistic behavior in female A. frenatus was observed to be longest of the 4 species. Sexual differences in agonistic behavior were prominent in A. perideraion and A. frenatus. When human observers stayed at a distance of 2.0 m from host anemones, no responses were observed in any of the species. Agonistic behavior increased when the distance of observers decreased to 1.0 m in females of A. frenatus and A. clarkii, and to 0.3 m in A. perideraion. During observation periods of 3 min, anemonefish behavior did not return completely to pre-observation behavior. We hypothesize that frequent human approaches could affect behavior and stress levels of some species of anemonefish. Thus, the distance and frequency of human approaches around anemonefish may need to be considered in order to protect anemonefish, as they are popular and commonly observed in diving tourism.


KEY WORDS: Agonistic behavior · Amphiprion · Divers · Conservation · Nature-based tourism


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Cite this article as: Hayashi K, Tachihara K, Reimer JD (2019) Species and sexual differences in human-oriented behavior of anemonefish at Okinawa Island, Japan. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 616:219-224. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12931

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