Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 24, Issue 4, pp 287–293

Behavior of fish predators and their prey: habitat choice between open water and dense vegetation

  • Jacqueline F. Savino
  • Roy A. Stein

DOI: 10.1007/BF00001402

Cite this article as:
Savino, J.F. & Stein, R.A. Environ Biol Fish (1989) 24: 287. doi:10.1007/BF00001402


Behavior of largemouth bass, Micropterus salmoides, and northern pike, Esox lucius, foraging on fathead minnows, Pimephales promelas, or bluegills, Lepomis macrochirus, was quantified in pools with 50% cover (half the pool had artificial stems at a density of 1000 stems m−2). Both predators spent most of their time in the vegetation. Largemouth bass searched for bluegills and ambushed minnows, whereas the relatively immobile northern pike ambushed all prey. Minnows were closer to predators and were captured more frequently than bluegills. Even when minnows dispersed, they moved continually and eventually wandered within striking distance of a predator. Bluegills dispersed in the cover with predators. Bass captured the few bluegills that strayed into the open and pike captured those that approached too closely in the cover. The ability of predators to capture prey while residing in habitats containing patches of dense cover may explain their residence in areas often considered to be poor ones for foraging.

Key words

Largemouth bassNorthern pikeBluegillsFathead minnowsStructureCoverForaging

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jacqueline F. Savino
    • 1
  • Roy A. Stein
    • 1
  1. 1.Ohio Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Department of ZoologyThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusU.S.A.
  2. 2.National Fisheries Research Center-Great LakesUnited States Fish and Wildlife ServiceAnn ArborU.S.A.