Departmental Seminar at CES on 27 September 2022 at 10:00 am titled "Fishes do fear the reaper: Anthropogenic fear in coral reef systems" by Shawn Dsouza from IISc, Bangalore
Prey species perceive the risk of encountering predators and being predated upon as fear in the landscape. Prey can thus implement behavioral antipredator strategies by altering functional traits such as habitat use, foraging time, and forage choice. Several factors can affect prey perception of predation risk in the landscape, also known as the landscape of fear, including predator traits, prey traits, and habitat characteristics. Humans may also play the role of predators in natural ecosystems. Both predator and prey species may perceive the threat of humans as predation risk, thus generating fear across trophic levels. Over the past century, most predator species have been extirpated from terrestrial and marine systems. Accordingly, humans may also alter the natural landscape of fear indirectly. Here, I attempt to understand how anthropogenic fear qualitatively and quantitatively differs from fear of other predator species. I plan to use a combination of theoretical and empirical approaches to answer my research questions. First, I will review and analyze current literature on anthropogenic fear to determine the extent and magnitude of anthropogenic fear effects across ecosystems and trophic levels. I will contrast the impact of risk from humans and other predators on prey foraging behavior. For the second chapter, I will use a theoretical approach to understand the effect of fear at multiple trophic levels instead of a single trophic level. I hope to generate predictions on the spatial distribution of predators and prey in systems with pervasive fear. The third and fourth chapters will involve field data collection and experiments in South Andaman and Richie’s Archipelago. These sites have varying levels of protection with a strong gradient of coral cover and human activity. In the third chapter, I will quantify the effect of the loss of predators on coral reefs due to fishing on herbivore foraging behavior. My final chapter will be an experiment to quantify the extent of fear generated by fisheries on predator and prey species in coral reefs.