The influence of behavior on size-structured predator -prey interactions: Prey susceptibility, predator selection, and population-level consequences for juvenile estuarine fishes

2001 2001

Other formats: Order a copy

Abstract (summary)

This dissertation examines the influence of predator and prey behavior on the outcome of size-structured species interactions between piscivorous fishes and their prey. A primary focus was to evaluate the relative susceptibility of bay anchovy to predation and identify potential mechanisms responsible for differences among bay anchovy and other common forage species.

Bay anchovy were highly susceptible to capture by bluefish and required minimal handling time. Bay anchovy greater than 40% of bluefish body size were highly profitable prey, which is not typical for most piscivore-prey interactions. Bluefish selected large bay anchovy when given a choice of prey sizes. High attack proportions on larger bay anchovy may have been influenced by size-related differences in antipredator behaviors. Results indicate that bay anchovy probably never achieve a size refuge from predation.

Compared to other common forage species, bay anchovy were the easiest prey to capture, required low handling times, and were generally the most profitable prey for piscivores. Short reaction distances to approaching predators may have contributed to disparate susceptibilities to capture among forage species. Findings highlight the potential importance of life history strategy and phylogeny in determining the effectiveness of the antipredator behaviors expressed by prey.

Piscivores consistently selected bay anchovy over several alternative forage species. Attack proportions were highly skewed toward bay anchovy prey. Forage species differed considerably in the expression of antipredator behaviors related to use of refuge, tank positioning, activity levels, schooling aggregation, and the frequency of stragglers. Piscivores displayed several attack strategies, but mostly attacked solitary prey individuals. Differences in antipredator behavior appeared to directly influence predator attacks, suggesting that differential attack proportions among prey may not necessarily represent active choice by piscivores.

Piscivores differed in their patterns of resource utilization, with bluefish achieving piscivory earlier and consuming larger prey sizes compared to striped bass. Behavioral foraging abilities differed markedly between piscivores, with bluefish foraging efficiency reaching levels nearly four times those reached by striped bass. When prey resources were limited, bluefish grew faster than expected and were able to exploit prey at the expense of striped bass. Findings indicate the importance of available forage fish of appropriate size to the onset of piscivory in striped bass.

Indexing (details)

Fish production;
0792: Aquaculture
0792: Fish production
0329: Ecology
0416: Oceanography
Identifier / keyword
Biological sciences; Estuarine; Fishes; Predator-prey; Prey susceptibility
The influence of behavior on size-structured predator -prey interactions: Prey susceptibility, predator selection, and population-level consequences for juvenile estuarine fishes
Scharf, Frederick Scott
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-B 62/10, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
9780493393629, 0493393625
Juanes, Francis
University of Massachusetts Amherst
University location
United States -- Massachusetts
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
Access the complete full text

You can get the full text of this document if it is part of your institution's ProQuest subscription.

Try one of the following:

  • Connect to ProQuest through your library network and search for the document from there.
  • Request the document from your library.
  • Go to the ProQuest login page and enter a ProQuest or My Research username / password.