Original paper

Effect of prey density, prey mobility and habitat structure on size selection and consumption of amphipods by a benthic feeding fish

Zhao, Xiaoxia; Fox, Michael G.; Lasenby, David C.


To examine the interactive effects of prey density, prey mobility and habitat structure on prey selection by benthic feeding fish, feeding experiments were conducted with 95–105mm (total length) pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus), given four sizes (9mm) of active or immobilized amphipods (Gammarus pseudolimnaeus) as prey. The experiments involved the assessment of prey size selectivity, total number of prey consumed and size-specific indicators of foraging efficiency such as capture success and handling time. Pumpkinseeds were size selective only at medium and high prey densities, preferring large Gammarus when selectivity occurred. The proportion of mobile and immobile prey consumed increased with prey size in unstructured habitat, whereas no selectivity occurred with mobile prey in structured habitat. Both habitat and prey density significantly affected prey consumption, with more prey eaten at higher densities and in unstructured habitat. Prey mobility did not affect the number of prey consumed when mobile or immobile prey were offered in separate trials, but the consumption rate of immobile prey increased in structured habitat when they were offered with mobile prey in the same trial. We conclude that prey density and habitat structure affect pumpkinseed size selectivity and consumption rates in a similar manner, whereas the effect of prey mobility on these factors is more dependent on the combination of density and habitat and on whether mobile and immobile prey are present at the same time.


feeding ecologylepomismacroinvertebratepredation