Latitudinal and photic effects on diel foraging and predation risk in freshwater pelagic ecosystems

Journal of Animal Ecology
By:  and 



1. Clark & Levy (American Naturalist, 131, 1988, 271–290) described an antipredation window for smaller planktivorous fish during crepuscular periods when light permits feeding on zooplankton, but limits visual detection by piscivores. Yet, how the window is influenced by the interaction between light regime, turbidity and cloud cover over a broad latitudinal gradi- ent remains unexplored.

2. We evaluated how latitudinal and seasonal shifts in diel light regimes alter the foraging- risk environment for visually feeding planktivores and piscivores across a natural range of turbidities and cloud covers. Pairing a model of aquatic visual feeding with a model of sun and moon illuminance, we estimated foraging rates of an idealized planktivore and piscivore over depth and time across factorial combinations of latitude (070°), turbidity (015 NTU) and cloud cover (clear to overcast skies) during the summer solstice and autumnal equinox. We evaluated the foraging-risk environment based on changes in the magnitude, duration and peak timing of the antipredation window.

3. The model scenarios generated up to 10-fold shifts in magnitude, 24-fold shifts in duration and 55-h shifts in timing of the peak antipredation window. The size of the window increased with latitude. This pattern was strongest during the solstice. In clear water at low turbidity (0105 NTU), peaks in the magnitude and duration of the window formed at 5760° latitude, before falling to near zero as surface waters became saturated with light under a midnight sun and clear skies at latitudes near 70°. Overcast dampened the midnight sun enough to allow larger windows to form in clear water at high latitudes. Conversely, at turbidities 2 NTU, greater reductions in the visual range of piscivores than planktivores created a window for long periods at high latitudes. Latitudinal dependencies were essentially lost during the equinox, indicating a progressive compression of the window from early summer into autumn.

4. Model results show that diel-seasonal foraging and predation risk in freshwater pelagic ecosystems changes considerably with latitude, turbidity and cloud cover. These changes alter the structure of pelagic predatorprey interactions, and in turn, the broader role of pelagic consumers in habitat coupling in lakes. 

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Latitudinal and photic effects on diel foraging and predation risk in freshwater pelagic ecosystems
Series title Journal of Animal Ecology
DOI 10.1111/1365-2656.12295
Volume 84
Issue 2
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher University Press
Publisher location Cambridge, UK
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Seattle
Description 13 p.
First page 532
Last page 544
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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