(You smell like laundry, so you must be laundry.)
From ABC Australia:
This clever fish avoids predators not only by looking like the coral it depends on for food and shelter, but by smelling like it too, say researchers.
The findings are the first evidence of diet helping animals to be chemically camouflaged, says Australian biologist Dr Rohan Brooker, a postdoctoral researcher at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.
Brooker and colleagues report their study on a colourful coral-feeding fish today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
Here’s the abstract:
ABSTRACT The vast majority of research into the mechanisms of camouflage has focused on forms that confound visual perception. However, many organisms primarily interact with their surroundings using chemosensory systems and may have evolved mechanisms to ‘blend in’ with chemical components of their habitat. One potential mechanism is ‘chemical crypsis’ via the sequestration of dietary elements, causing a consumer’s odour to chemically match that of its prey. Here, we test the potential for chemical crypsis in the coral-feeding filefish, Oxy-monacanthus longirostris, by examining olfactory discrimination in obligate coral-dwelling crabs and a predatory cod. The crabs, which inhabit the corals con-sumed by O. longirostris, were used as a bioassay to determine the effect of coral diet on fish odour. Crabs preferred the odour of filefish fed their preferred coral over the odour of filefish fed a non-preferred coral, suggesting coral-specific dietary elements that influence odour are sequestered. Crabs also exhib-ited a similar preference for the odour of filefish fed their preferred coral and odour directly from that coral, suggesting a close chemical match. In behavioural trials, predatory cod were less attracted to filefish odour when presented along-side the coral it had been fed on, suggesting diet can reduce detectability. This is, we believe, the first evidence of diet-induced chemical crypsis in a vertebrate. – Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences (Impact Factor: 5.68). 01/2015; 282(1799):20141887. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2014.1887
Follow UD News at Twitter!