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Ontogeny of predator-sensitive foraging and routine metabolism in larval shorthorn sculpin, Myoxocephalus scorpius
Killen, S.S.; Gampert, A.K.; Brown, J.A. (2007). Ontogeny of predator-sensitive foraging and routine metabolism in larval shorthorn sculpin, Myoxocephalus scorpius. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 152(6): 1249-1261.
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162; e-ISSN 1432-1793, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Killen, S.S.
  • Gampert, A.K.
  • Brown, J.A.

    Most animals will reduce foraging activity in the presence of a predatory threat. However, little is known about the onset of this decision-making ability during the early life stages of fishes, and how the trade-off between foraging and predator-avoidance may be affected by changes in metabolic demand during ontogeny. To examine these issues, the foraging behaviour of larval shorthorn sculpin Myoxocephalus scorpius was monitored during visual exposure to a predatory threat (juvenile Atlantic cod, Gadus morhua) throughout development at 3°C (March–April, 2004). Larvae did not respond to predatory exposure during the first week post-hatch, but thereafter showed drastic reductions in foraging activity when exposed to predators. During early development, the mass-specific routine metabolism of shorthorn sculpin larvae displayed a triphasic ontogeny and peaked during metamorphosis. This high mass-specific metabolic demand could make reduced foraging under predation threat very costly during this stage of development. To further investigate this possibility, additional experiments were performed (March–April, 2005) where larvae were reared with visual exposure to predators for 6 h day-1 during the feeding period. At 7-week post-hatch, larvae exposed to predators were smaller (wet mass and SL), showed decreased levels of whole-body lipids and certain fatty acids, and experienced higher rates of mortality as compared to control larvae. In environments where abundant predators cause larval fish to reduce their foraging rate, growth and survival of larvae may be negatively affected.

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