Behavioural interaction between fish predators and their prey: effects of plant density

Animal Behaviour
By:  and 



Prey-specific anti-predatory behaviour under different degrees of structural complexity determines foraging success of predators. The behaviour of piscivorous fish (largemouth bass, Micropterus salmoides and northern pike, Esox lucius) and their prey (bluegills, Lepomis macrochirus, and fathead minnows, Pimephales promelas) were quantified in 60-min experiments in laboratory pools (2 multiplied by 4 m in diameter, 0 multiplied by 5 m deep) with artificial vegetation at densities of 0, 50, 250, and 1000 stems/m2. Largemouth bass switched predatory tactics from searching to ambushing as plant density increased whereas northern pike always used ambushing. At high plant density, both predators captured minnows, but not bluegills. Bluegills modified their behaviour more than minnows in response to predators, thereby avoiding predation at high plant densities. Structural complexity alone did not always provide refuge for prey; prey must use the structure to avoid predators. Predators may seek vegetated areas if appropriate, vulnerable prey are present.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Behavioural interaction between fish predators and their prey: effects of plant density
Series title Animal Behaviour
DOI 10.1016/0003-3472(89)90120-6
Volume 37
Issue 2
Year Published 1989
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Publisher location Amsterdam, Netherlands
Contributing office(s) Great Lakes Science Center
Description 11 p.
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Animal Behaviour
First page 311
Last page 321
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