Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp 307–311 | Cite as

Social enhancement of foraging on an ephemeral food source in juvenile walleye pollock, Theragra chalcogramma

  • Troy A. Baird
  • Clifford H. Ryer
  • Bori L. Olla
Brief communication


The foraging effectiveness of walleye pollock juveniles, Theragra chalcogramma, was determined experimentally to test the hypothesis that social cues may facilitate the ability of individuals to exploit ephemeral food patches. Fish were tested when isolated, paired with one other fish, and in a group of six fish. Test fish exploited more food patches while in a group of six than when they were isolated. Patch exploitation by paired fish was intermediate to but not statistically different than isolate or grouped treatments. The number of pellets eaten by test fish in a group and a pair was more than 3.5 times that of when they were isolated, although the overall relationship between the amount of food eaten and group size was not statistically significant. Results support the hypothesis that juvenile walleye pollock exploit ephemeral food patches more effectively in the presence of conspecifics. In planktivores such as walleye pollock, social cues may enhance foraging on transient food sources either by facilitating detection of food patches (local enhancement) or by stimulating foraging activity when a food patch is located (social facilitation).

Key words

Feeding Grouping Social facilitation Area copying Local enhancement Information transfer Fish Gadidae 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Troy A. Baird
    • 1
  • Clifford H. Ryer
    • 1
  • Bori L. Olla
    • 2
  1. 1.Hatfield Marine Science CenterOregon State UniversityNewportU.S.A.
  2. 2.Alaska Fisheries Science Center, NOAA, Hatfield Marine Science CenterCooperative Institute of Marine Resources StudiesNewportU.S.A.

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