We examined feeding periodicity of three size groups of the rusty crayfish (Orconectes rusticus) at four-hour intervals over a 28-hour period during July in a headwater stream of the Susquehanna River drainage in central New York. Feeding activity was expressed as the ratio of stomach weight divided by the crayfish wet weight. The diel food consumption patterns of all three size groups of rusty crayfish (i.e., ≤ 10 mm, 11–20 mm, and > 20 mm carapace length) were significantly different. Peak feeding of the smallest crayfish occurred during crepuscular periods. Food consumption of the intermediate size crayfish was highest at 2000 h, and feeding of large crayfish was consistently high from 1200 h to 0400 h. Feeding intensity of both small and intermediate size crayfish was highest when feeding intensity of large crayfsh was lowest. Ontogenetic differences in feeding periodicity may be associated with predation pressure from large rusty crayfish on smaller individuals.
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Ontogenetic Variation in Food Consumption of Rusty Crayfish (Orconectes rusticus) in a Central New York Stream