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Larval fish in troubled waters — is the behavioural response of larval fish to hydrodynamic impacts active or passive?

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In a mesocosm experiment, we tested whether larval fish show an active behavioural response to hydrodynamic impacts. Exposing 1- to 3-week-old allis shad (Alosa alosa) larvae to a pulsed wave regime, we found that already 1-week-old larvae immediately adapt their microhabitat use and activity patterns at the onset of the wave pulses. The fish larvae instantaneously increased their activity level and moved downwards, concentrating in the calmer lower third of the water column. Within 4 min after the end of the wave pulse, the fish returned to their former distribution. Two- and 3-week-old fish larvae foraged close to the bottom substratum during calm periods but avoided this zone during the wave pulses. Thus, larval fish show an active response to hydrodynamic impacts. With the ability to adjust microhabitat use and activity level, already fish larvae are able to trade costs and benefits associated with spatio-temporal hydrodynamic heterogeneity. In particular, fish larvae should be able to minimize some of the harmful effects of navigation-induced waves where calmer evasion habitats are available.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Stiftung Wasserlauf, Geschäftsstelle EU Life Projekt Maifisch, Aquazoo Löbbecke Museum, Kaiserswerther Straße 380, 40200 Düsseldorf, Germany.

Publication date: October 5, 2012

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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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