Prey size selection in piscivorous pikeperch (Stizostedion lucioperca) includes active prey choice

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Abstract

Knowledge of the mechanisms behind prey selection in piscivorous fish is important for our understanding of the dynamics of freshwater systems. Prey selection can involve active predator choice or be a passive process. We experimentally studied size-selectivity in pikeperch, feeding on roach and rudd. When given a choice of different prey sizes, pikeperch selected small prey. Passive selection mechanisms ( encounter rate, capture success and satiation) could not fully explain the pattern of diet choice. Instead, behavioural analysis revealed that the pikeperch actively selected small-sized prey. Optimal foraging theory, predicting that predators will choose prey sizes giving highest energy return per time spent foraging, is assumed to explain active choice. We measured handling times for a range of prey sizes and found that the most profitable sizes were also the chosen ones, both in experiments and in the field. This suggests that pikeperch choose their prey to maximise energy intake per unit time.

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  • Ecology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-233
JournalEcology of Freshwater Fish
Volume11
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes