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Interplay of individual interactions and turbidity affects the functional response of three-spined sticklebacks Gasterosteus aculeatus

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The effects of turbidity, size and the presence of conspecifics on the functional response, feeding latency and activity in the three-spined stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus were examined. A significant interaction between standard length and presence of conspecifics demonstrated an increase in attack rates of larger individuals in the presence of conspecifics. Attack rate was also higher in turbid water. Feeding latency decreased with prey concentration and presence of conspecifics, but was not affected by turbidity. Activity level did not change with prey levels, but increased with turbidity. These results can help to better understand how individual flexibility in the functional response can affect prey mortality according to environmental perturbation and social interaction at the level of the predator.

Keywords: Holling-disc equation; ecosystems; feeding interactions; fish behaviour; predator–prey

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: Alaska Fisheries Science Center, NOAA, National Marine Fisheries Service, 7600 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115, U.S.A.

Publication date: June 1, 2011

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