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.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)