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Effect of light intensity and eye development on prey capture by larval striped bass Morone saxatilis

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The efficacy of visual and non-visual feeding among pelagic striped bass Morone saxatilis larvae adapted to a turbid estuary was determined in the laboratory in clear water. Capture of Artemia salina (density 100 l1) was significantly affected by the interaction between age of larvae (range: 8–25 days post-hatch, dph) and light intensity (range: 0–10·6 mol s1 m2 at the water surface). Visual feeding by larvae aged 9–11 dph was highest in dim light (0·086–0·79 mol s1 m2), with fish capturing up to 5 prey larva1 h1. As the larvae grew, prey capture in brighter light improved, associated with an increasing proportion of twin cone photoreceptors and improving ability of the retina to light- and dark-adapt. By age >22 dph, mean prey capture was greatest at highest light intensities (0·79 and 10·6 mol s1 m2) exceeding 100 prey larva1 h1. Incidence of feeding larvae generally improved as the larvae grew, reaching >80% in all light intensities from 16 dph onwards. The lower threshold for visual feeding, between 0·0084 and 0·03 mol s1 m2, remained constant as the larvae grew, despite an increasing density of rod photoreceptors. Below this threshold, non-visual feeding was evident at a low rate (<6 prey larva1 h1) that was independent of larval age.

Keywords: foraging; planktivory; retina; teleosts; vision

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: Department of Biology, Cape Breton University, 1250 Grand Lake Road, Sydney, N.S. B1P 6L2, Canada

Publication date: September 1, 2007


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