, Volume 123, Issue 3, pp 421-430

Habitat use by juvenile Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) in the presence of an actively foraging and non-foraging predator

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Abstract

Experiments were conducted in the autumn and winter of 1992/93 to examine habitat use by juvenile (age 0+) Atlantic cod, Gadus morhua L., before, during and following exposure to a passive or actively foraging predator (age 3+ cod). Experiments presented groups of juvenile cod (n=5 fish/group) with one of two combinations of three substrates; (1) gravel, sand, and a patch of artificial kelp (“kelp”), or (2) cobble, sand, and kelp. Cobble is known to provide juvenile cod with a refuge from predation. Kelp was used to test the hypothesis that juvenile cod associate with fleshy macroalgae in nature because of the safety it provides from predators. There was little difference in habitat use by juvenile cod before, during or following exposure to a passive predator. Under these conditions, juvenile cod appeared to prefer finer grained mineral substrates and avoided the kelp. The extent of the juvenile response to a passive predator was to avoid the predator's location in the experimental tank. In contrast, juvenile cod showed a significant shift in habitat use when exposed to an actively foraging predator, hiding in cobble or, when cobble was not available, in kelp. Use of both these habitats resulted in a significant reduction in predation risk to the juvenile cod. Our results suggest that: (1) an association with kelp provides safety from predation to juvenile cod, and (2) juvenile cod are capable for assessing the risk a predator represents and adjust their response accordingly.

Communicated by J.P. Grassle, New Brunswick