, Volume 72, Issue 3, pp 473–478

Prey selection by a stonefly: the influence of hunger and prey size

  • M. C. MollesJr.
  • R. D. Pietruszka
Original Papers


The influences of hunger and prey size on prey selection by the stonefly Hesperoperla pacifica (Perlidae) were explored in the laboratory by observing behavioral responses toward ten prey taxa and three nonprey taxa. Patterns of behavior were consistent with most assumptions and predictions of optimal foraging theory predicting sizebased prey selection by pursuing predators. Handling time appeared to increase as an exponential function of prey mass, and prey profitability (mg/s) was highest for small and intermediate-sized prey. Fasted stoneflies consumed a wide range of prey sizes, whereas well-fed stoneflies concentrated their attacks on intermediate-sized prey. Responses of H. pacifica to nonprey taxa, however, suggest that prey recognition and selection are not based on size alone.

Key words

Foraging Hunger Plecoptera Profitability 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Allan JD (1982) Feeding habits and prey consumption of three setipalpian stoneflies (Plecoptera) in a mountain stream. Ecology 63:26–34Google Scholar
  2. Baumann RW, Gaufin AR, Surdick RF (1977) The stoneflies (Plecoptera) of the Rocky Mountains. Mem Am Entomol Soc 31Google Scholar
  3. Brink P (1949) Studies on swedish stoneflies (Plecoptera). Opusc Ent Suppl 11:1–246Google Scholar
  4. Cather MR, Gaufin AR (1975) Life history and ecology of Megarcys signata (Plecoptera: Perlodidae), Mill Creek, Wasatch Mountains, Utah. Great Basin Nat 35:39–48Google Scholar
  5. Charnov EL (1976) Optimal foraging: attack strategy of a mantid. Am Nat 110:141–151Google Scholar
  6. Cummins KW, Wuycheck JC (1971) Caloric equivalents for investigations in ecological energetics. Mitt Int Ver Limnol No 18Google Scholar
  7. Dodds GS, Hisaw FL (1925) Ecological studies on aquatic insects. IV. Altitudinal range and zonation of mayflies, stoneflies and caddisflies in the Colorado Rockies. Ecology 6:380–390Google Scholar
  8. Fuller RL, Stewart KW (1977) The food habits of stoneflies (Plecoptera) in the upper Gunnison River, Colorado. Environ Ent 6:293–302Google Scholar
  9. Holling CS (1966) The functional response of invertebrate predators to prey density. Mem Ent Soc Can 48:1–86Google Scholar
  10. Hynes HBN (1941) The taxonomy and ecology of the nymphs of the British Plecoptera with notes on the adults and eggs. Trans Roy Ent Soc Lond 91:459–557Google Scholar
  11. Hynes HBN (1976) Biology of Plecoptera. Annu Rev Entomol 21:135–153Google Scholar
  12. Ivlev VS (1961) Experimental ecology of the feeding of fishes. Yale Univ Press, New HavenGoogle Scholar
  13. Krebs JR (1978) Optimal foraging: decision rules for predators. In: Krebs JR, Davies NB (eds), Behavioral ecology an evolutionary approach, Blackwell, Oxford Melbourne, pp 23–63Google Scholar
  14. Krebs JR, Houston AI, Charnov EL (1980) Some recent developments in optimal foraging. In: Kamil AC, Sargent T (eds), Foraging behavior: ecological, ethological and psychological approaches, Garland STPM, New York, pp 3–18Google Scholar
  15. Johnson JH (1981) Food habits and dietary overlap of perlid stoneflies (Plecoptera) in a tributary of Lake Ontario. Can J Zool 59:2030–2037Google Scholar
  16. Mackereth JC (1957) Notes on the Plecoptera from a stony stream. J Anim Ecol 26:343–351Google Scholar
  17. McClintock JB (1986) On estimating energetic values of prey: implications in optimal diet models. Oecologia (Berlin) 70:161–162Google Scholar
  18. Malmqvist B, Sjöström P (1980) Prey size and feeding patterns in Dinocras cephalotes (Plecoptera). Oikos 35:311–316Google Scholar
  19. Minshall GW, Minshall JN (1966) Notes on the life history and ecology of Isoperla clio (Newman) and Isogenus decisus Walker (Plecoptera: Perlodidae) Am Midl Nat 76:340–350Google Scholar
  20. Molles MC Jr, Pietruszka RD (1983) Mechanisms of prey selection by predaceous stoneflies: roles of prey morphology, behavior and predator hunger. Oecologia (Berlin) 57:25–31Google Scholar
  21. Muttkowski RA, Smith GW (1929) The food of trout stream insects in Yellowstone National Park. Roosevelt Wildlife Ann 2:241–263Google Scholar
  22. Pastorok RA (1980) The effects of predator hunger and food abundance on prey selection by Chaoborus larvae. Limnol Oceanogr 25:910–921Google Scholar
  23. Peckarsky BL (1980) Behavioral interactions between stoneflies and mayflies: behavioral observations. Ecology 61:932–943Google Scholar
  24. Peckarsky BL (1982) Aquatic insect predator-prey relations. Bio Science 32:261–266Google Scholar
  25. Pulliam HR (1974) On the theory of optimal diets. Am Nat 108:59–74Google Scholar
  26. Pyke GH (1984) Optimal foraging theory: a critical review. Ann Rev Ecol Syst 15:523–575Google Scholar
  27. Pyke GH, Pulliam HR, Charnov EL (1977) Optimal foraging: a selective review of theory and tests. Q Rev Biol 52:137–154Google Scholar
  28. Schoener TW (1969) Models of optimal size for solitary predators. Am Nat 103:277–313Google Scholar
  29. Schoener TW (1971) Theory of feeding strategies. Ann Rev Ecol Syst 2:369–404Google Scholar
  30. Schoener TW (1974) The compression hypothesis and temporal resource partitioning. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 71:4169–4172Google Scholar
  31. Schoener TW (1979) Generality of the size-distance relation in models of optimal foraging feeding. Am Nat 114:902–914Google Scholar
  32. Sheldon AL (1969) Size relationships of Acroneuria californica and its prey. Hydrobiol 34:85–94Google Scholar
  33. Sheldon AL (1980) Resource division by perlid stoneflies (Plecoptera) in a lake outlet ecosystem. Hydrobiol 71:155–161Google Scholar
  34. Siegfried CA, Knight AW (1976) Prey selection by a setipalpian stonefly nymph, Acroneuria (Calineuria) californica Banks (Plecoptera: Perlidae). Ecology 57:603–608Google Scholar
  35. Snellen RK, Stewart KW (1979) The life cycle of Perlesta placida (Plecoptera: Perlidae) in an intermittent stream in Northern Texas. Ann Ent Soc Am 72:659–666Google Scholar
  36. Tarter DC, Krumholz LA (1971) Life history and ecology of Paragnetina media (Walker) (Insecta: Plecoptera) in Doe Run, Meade County, Kentucky. Am Midl Nat 86:169–180Google Scholar
  37. Vaught GL, Stewart KW (1974) The life history and ecology of the stonefly Neoperla clymene (Newman) (Plecoptera: Perlidae). Ann Ent Soc Am 67:167–178Google Scholar
  38. Walton OE Jr (1980) Invertebrate drift from predatory-prey associations. Ecology 61:1486–1497Google Scholar
  39. Wilkinson L (1984) SYSTAT. SYSTAT, Evanston, IllinoisGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. C. MollesJr.
    • 1
  • R. D. Pietruszka
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyThe University of New MexicoAlbuquerqueUSA

Personalised recommendations