, Volume 31, Issue 4, pp 389-401

Habitat use and feeding behavior of thirteen species of benthic stream fishes

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Synopsis

The densities, habitat use, and feeding behaviors of 13 fish species belonging to the benthic invertebrate-feeding guild were studied by snorkeling at three localities in the Little River of eastern Tennessee, U.S.A. Resource partitioning occurred by habitat, feeding behavior and time of activity. Differences were also found at the generic level.Cottus was a nocturnal feeder, whereasPercina andEtheostoma were, for the most part, diurnally active.Percina moved about rapidly and spent most of its time above the bottom. In contrast,Etheostoma varied considerably in the amount of time spent under cover, spent little time above the bottom, and exhibited low levels of swimming activity. Nearly all species sought cover at night, suggesting they may be particularly sensitive to predation at night. Species with small adult sizes (Etheostoma, Cottus andP. evides) were concentrated in shallow water habitats, whereas species with large adult sizes (Percina) were more abundant in deep water habitats. The habitat use data are consistent with the hypothesis that size-selective predation by centrarchid bass may cause smaller fish to avoid deep water areas. Large species should have a lower risk of predation due to their size and behavior.