Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 96, Issue 9, pp 1045–1063 | Cite as

Effects of prey size structure and turbulence on feeding and growth of anchovy larvae



Foraging processes in plankton and planktivorous fish are constrained by relative prey and predator size and therefore, these are important variables to include in a foraging model. The distribution of prey biomass across different size classes can be characterized by a size spectrum slope. We present a foraging model for anchovy larvae including the most relevant processes such as prey encounter, capture- and pursuit success, all influenced by light, turbulence and prey characteristics. We modelled ingestion rates and specific growth rate by coupling the foraging model with an existing bioenergetic model, and performed a sensitivity analysis of prey ingestion in turbulent environments assuming either hemispherical or conical perceptive volume. Our results suggest that turbulence has no positive effect because of the low capture ability, small prey size and small visual volume for anchovy larvae. The predicted ingestion is too low to sustain the growth potential of larvae when assuming conical perceptive volume even under prey densities substantially higher than normally found in the field. Ingestion rate is sensitive to the total biomass and the slope of the prey size spectra, specifically because it determines the abundance of prey around the optimal size for the larvae. The model also suggests that small larvae benefit from a prey size structure with steep prey size-spectra slope while a large larva benefit from less steep slopes. The model can act as a link between size-spectra measurements from the field and the foraging conditions of larval anchovies.


Fish larva Prey size spectra Foraging model Turbulence Visual perceptive volume 



We would like to thank to A.F Opdal, N. Dupont and L. Zarauz for their useful comments in the manuscript, and the Norwegian Research Council for financial support. This paper is contribution no. 608 from AZTI Foundation(Marine Research).

Supplementary material

10641_2012_102_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (408 kb)
Table A1 The value of the parameters used in the simulation using four size classes of prey in intervals of logarithmic scale in base 2. The total biomass is 20 mg dw m-3 for any slope in the prey size distribution. All prey is assumed to be zooplankton. See Table 1 for the definition of dp, lp and wp variables. (PDF 407 kb)
10641_2012_102_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (32 kb)
Table A2 The value of the parameters used in the simulation using five size classes of prey in intervals of logarithmic scale in base 2. The total biomass is 20 mg dw m-3 for any slope in the prey size distribution. All prey is assumed to be zooplankton. See Table 1 for the definition of dp, lp and wp variables. (PDF 32.0 kb)
10641_2012_102_MOESM3_ESM.pdf (29 kb)
Table A3 The value of the parameters used in the simulation with 15 size classes of prey divided with the same size interval. The total biomass is 20 mg dw m-3 for any slope in the prey size distribution. All prey is assumed to be zooplankton. See Table 1 for the definition of dp, lp and wp variables. (PDF 29.3 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of BergenBergenNorway
  2. 2.Uni ResearchBergenNorway

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