We used an individual-based modeling approach to study the consequences of cannibalism and competition for food in a freshwater fish population. We simulated the daily foraging, growth, and survival of the age-0 fish and older juvenile individuals of a sample population to reconstruct patterns of density dependence in the age-0 fish during the growth season. Cannibalism occurs as a part of the foraging process. For age-0 fish, older juvenile fish are both potential cannibals and competitors of food. We found that competition and cannibalism produced intraclass and interclass density dependence. Our modeling results suggested the following. (1) With low density of juvenile fish and weak interclass interactions, the age-0 fish recruitment shows a Beverton-Holt type of density dependence. (2) With high density of juvenile fish and strong interclass interactions, the age-0 fish recruitment shows a Ricker type of density dependence, and overcompensation occurs. (3) Interclass competition of food is responsible for much of the overcompensation. (4) Cannibalism intensifies the changes in the recruitment that are brought about by competition. Cannibalism can (a) generally reduce the recruitment, (b) particularly reduce the maximum level of recruitment, (c) cause overcompensation to occur at lower densities, and (d) produce a stronger overcompensation. (5) Growth is also a function of density. Cannibalism generally improves average growth of cannibals. (6) Variation in the lengths of age-0 fish increases with density and with a decreased average growth. These results imply that cannibalism and competition for food could strongly affect recruitment dynamics. Our model also showed that the rate of cannibalism either could be fairly even through the whole season or could vary dramatically. The individual-based modeling approach can help ecologists understand the mechanistic connection between daily behavioral and physiological processes operating at the level of individual organisms and seasonal patterns of population structure and dynamics. ?? Copyright by the American Fisheries Society 1998.
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Consequences of cannibalism and competition for food in a smallmouth bass population: An individual-based modeling study