The schooling and foraging ecology of lake herring (Coregonus artedi) in Lake Opeongo, Ontario, Canada

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Abstract:

We used a combination of suspended gill nets and hydroacoustics to investigate the schooling behaviour of lake herring (Coregonus artedi) in Lake Opeongo, Ontario, Canada. Lake herring form schools during the day but are dispersed at night and this change occurs at a light threshold of roughly 0.04 lx. Schools range in maximum linear dimension from 100 to 2300 cm with the majority under 1000 cm. The light threshold for school formation is well below that at which their principal predator, lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush), are able to detect prey. This suggests that schooling may provide advantages in addition to predator avoidance. We observed that lake herring stomachs were fuller during the day than at night, indicating that schooling herring forage more efficiently during the day than individual herring do at night. Furthermore, herring stomach fullness increased with school size, suggesting that schooling enhances foraging opportunities for individual members. We speculate that this is due either to social facilitation of feeding when herring are in the presence of conspecifics, or to corporate vigilance, or "many eyes", which allows individual fish to spend less time being alert to predators and more time feeding.

Nous avons utilisé une combinaison de filets maillants suspendus et de techniques hydroacoustiques pour étudier le comportement de formation de bancs chez le cisco de lac (Coregonus artedi) au lac Opeongo, Ontario, Canada. Les ciscos forment des bancs durant la journée et se dispersent durant la nuit; le changement se produit à un seuil de lumière d'approximativement 0,04 lx. Les bancs varient en taille linéaire maximale de 100 cm à 2300 cm, la plupart atteignant moins de 1000 cm. Le seuil lumineux pour la formation des bancs est bien inférieur à celui auquel leur prédateur principal, le touladi (Salvelinus namaycush), est capable de détecter ses proies. Cela laisse croire que la formation de bancs peut procurer des avantages autres que l'évitement des prédateurs. Nous avons observé que les estomacs de ciscos de lacs sont plus remplis durant le jour que la nuit, ce qui indique que les ciscos en bancs s'alimentent plus efficacement le jour que les ciscos solitaires la nuit. De plus, les estomacs sont d'autant plus remplis que les bancs sont de grande taille, ce qui indique que la formation de bancs multiplie les occasions de s'alimenter pour les membres du banc. Nous pensons que cela est dû ou bien à une facilitation sociale de l'alimentation lorsque les ciscos sont en présence de poissons de même espèce, ou alors à la vigilance collective par des « yeux multiples » qui permet à chaque poisson de passer moins de temps en alerte vis à vis de ses prédateurs et plus de temps à s'alimenter. [Traduit par la Rédaction]

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2005

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  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
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