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Effects of water motion and prey behavior on zooplankton capture by two coral reef fishes
Clarke, R.D.; Buskey, E.J.; Marsden, K.C. (2005). Effects of water motion and prey behavior on zooplankton capture by two coral reef fishes. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 146(6): 1145-1155.
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Clarke, R.D.
  • Buskey, E.J.
  • Marsden, K.C.

    Water motion is an important factor affecting planktivory on coral reefs. The feeding behavior of two species of tube-dwelling coral reef fish (Chaenopsidae) was studied in still and turbulent water. One species of blenny, Acanthemblemaria spinosa , lives in holes higher above the reef surface and feeds mainly on calanoid copepods, while a second, A. aspera , lives closer to the reef surface, feeds mainly on harpacticoid copepods, and is exposed to less water motion than the first. In the laboratory, these two blenny species were video recorded attacking a calanoid copepod ( Acartia tonsa, evasive prey) and an anostracan branchiopod (nauplii of Artemia sp., passive prey). Whereas A. spinosa attacked with the same vigor in still and turbulent water, A. aspera modulated its attack with a more deliberate strike under still conditions than turbulent conditions. For both fish species combined, mean capture success when feeding on Artemia sp. was 100% in still water and dropped to 78% in turbulent water. In contrast, when feeding on Acartia tonsa, mean capture success was 21% in still water and rose to 56% in turbulent water. We hypothesize that, although turbulence reduces capture success by adding erratic movement to Artemia sp. (passive prey), it increases capture success of Acartia tonsa (evasive prey) by interfering with the hydrodynamic sensing of the approaching predator. These opposite effects of water motion increase the complexity of the predator-prey relationship as water motion varies spatially and temporally on structurally complex coral reefs. Some observations were consistent with A. aspera living in a lower energy benthic boundary layer as compared with A. spinosa: slower initial approach to prey, attack speeds modulated according to water velocity, and lower proportion of approaches that result in strikes in turbulent water.

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