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Free Content Two Types of Cover-seeking Behavior at Sunset by the Princess Parrotfish, Scarus Taeniopterus, at Barbados, West Indies

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Terminal phase male Scarus taeniopterus. which were permanently territorial during the day, either slept on their territories or migrated 125–375 m along fixed routes to sleeping spots which were often within sedentary males' territories. Swimming increased and feeding decreased in the late afternoon. Approximately 25 min before sunset fish stopped feeding and began to tailstand, perform comfort movements, and search under coral heads. While migrators ceased chasing other males on leaving their territories, sedentary fish continued chasing males until 10 min before sunset, the time when migrating males arrived at their sleeping areas. Fish retired under corals by 8 min after sunset, before the crepuscular peak in predation. Sleeping spots and most sedentary males' territories were near reef slopes and had dense coral cover, often Acropora cervicornis, factors which may deter nocturnal predators. Reverse migrations occurred at dawn. Scarus iserti and S. vetula behaved similarly, whereas Sparisoma aurofrenatum did not migrate and slept in open areas. Migrations allow fish to exploit areas that lack suitable sleeping spots, and illustrate the considerable behavioral flexibility of these species.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1982-04-01

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