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Free Content Behavioral Responses of Zooplankton to Predation

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Many behavioral traits of zooplankton reduce the probability of successful consumption by predators. Prey behavioral responses act at different points of a predation sequence, altering the probability of a predator's success at encounter, attack, capture or ingestion. Avoidance behavior (through spatial refuges, diel activity cycles, seasonal diapause, locomotory behavior) minimizes encounter rates with predators. Escape responses (through active motility, passive evasion, aggregation, bioluminescence) diminish rates of attack or successful capture. Defense responses (through chemical means, induced morphology) decrease the probability of successful ingestion by predators. Behavioral responses of individuals also alter the dynamics of populations. Future efforts to predict the growth of prey and predator populations will require greater attention to avoidance, escape and defense behavior. Prey activities such as occupation of spatial refuges, aggregation responses, or avoidance responses that vary according to the behavioral state of predators can alter the outcome of population interactions, introducing stability into prey-predator oscillations. In variable environments, variance in behavioral traits can “spread the risk” (den Boer, 1968) of local extinction. At present the extent of variability of prey and predator behavior, as well as the relative contributions of genotypic variance and of phenotypic plasticity, are not well known.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 1988

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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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