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Predator evasion in a fish school: test of a model for the fountain effect

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A model to explain the behavioural mechanisms underlying the fountain manoeuvre, a predator-evasion response shown by fish shoals is tested. It is proposed that the responses of individual fish are constrained by requirements to (1) visually monitor the predator's behaviour, (2) minimise the energetic cost of escape, and (3) maximise the rate of passage around the predator. The model predicts that individuals will swim away from the threat at a constant angle determined by the rear limit of the visual field and that the range of reaction will be constrained by water visibility. The model's predictions were upheld in tests conducted in 1984 using a shoal of juvenile whiting, Merlangius merlangus (L.). It is concluded that the principal determinant of the fountain manoeuvre is the visual field of the fish.

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Communicated by J. Mauchline, Oban

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Hall, S.J., Wardle, C.S. & MacLennan, D.N. Predator evasion in a fish school: test of a model for the fountain effect. Mar. Biol. 91, 143–148 (1986). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00397579

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  • Visual Field
  • Energetic Cost
  • Individual Fish
  • Behavioural Mechanism
  • Constant Angle