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Foraging behaviour and capture success in perch, pikeperch and pike and the effects of prey density

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The effect of school size on capture success in three different piscivores, perch Perca fluviatilis, pikeperch Stizostedion lucioperca and pike Esox lucius, was investigated. Roach Rutilus rutilus were used as prey in a pool experiment where individual predators were presented prey at densities of one, two, four, eight and 16 prey, respectively. Treatments were replicated seven times for each predator species. Perch was at first virtually unable to capture a prey from a school and suffered a significant confusion effect with increasing prey density. The effect, however, was limited in the long run, as the perch was a very effective predator in its hunting strategy where it singled out and repeatedly attacked single prey irrespective of prey density or school size. Pikeperch and pike were able to attack and capture prey at any prey density equally successfully and thus did not suffer from a confusion effect. Neither did these predators receive any apparent advantages from increasing prey density.
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Keywords: confusion; consumption; escape; piscivory; predation; predator‐prey

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: Department of Ecology, Limnology, Ecology Building, Lund University, SE-223 62 Lund, Sweden

Publication date: 2004-08-01

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