With a little help from my friends: Group orientation by larvae of a coral reef fish

Jean Olivier Irisson, Claire B. Paris, Jeffrey M. Leis, Michelle N. Yerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Theory and some empirical evidence suggest that groups of animals orient better than isolated individuals. We present the first test of this hypothesis for pelagic marine larvae, at the stage of settlement, when orientation is critical to find a habitat. We compare the in situ behaviour of individuals and groups of 10-12 Chromis atripectoralis (reef fish of the family Pomacentridae), off Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef. Larvae are observed by divers or with a drifting image recording device. With both methods, groups orient cardinally while isolated individuals do not display significant orientation. Groups also swim on a 15% straighter course (i.e. are better at keeping a bearing) and 7% faster than individuals. A body of observations collected in this study suggest that enhanced group orientation emerges from simple group dynamics rather than from the presence of more skilful leaders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0144060
JournalPloS one
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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