Temporary intermissions in capturing prey (Daphnia) by planktivorous fish (Rutilusrutilus): Are they due to scramble competition or the need for antipredation vigilance?
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- Bartosiewicz, M. & Gliwicz, Z.M. Hydrobiologia (2011) 668: 125. doi:10.1007/s10750-010-0577-0
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Capture rates in planktivorous fish may differ in individuals foraging alone or in a group, and this may result either from the altered risk of predation due to vigilance sharing in the group, or from a difference in the intensity of scramble competition for encountered prey items. Changes in capture frequency and the feeding pattern observed in young roach (Rutilus rutilus) feeding alone and in a group of three on a high density prey (Daphnia), in the presence and in the absence of predator odor, were used to determine which of these two alternate explanations is more likely. Earlier studies revealed that a foraging roach captures Daphnia prey in uninterrupted sequences of captures occurring every 1–3 s. Such multiple captures are separated by intermissions of 10–20 s, with their duration being likely to determine the overall capture rate. An experiment was performed to examine whether feeding in a group of three permits higher capture rates (hypothesis 1), and whether the intermittent foraging pattern is due to the need to invest more time for vigilance when foraging alone (hypothesis 2). Video recordings were made of many series of subsequent prey captures by roach feeding on high Daphnia densities, alone or in a group, and in the presence or absence of predator odor. Analysis of these data revealed that the mean duration of intermissions between bursts of feeding activity was significantly greater in the presence of predator odor, which resulted in a significant decrease in the capture rate. Furthermore, when the roach were feeding in a group, these intermissions were reduced to a greater extent in the presence of predator odor than in its absence, implying that the intermission intervals represent an investment for vigilance as an effective antipredation defense that permits increased food intake regardless of whether or not it is enhanced by the resource or the interference competition.