Modelling the effects of current on prey acquisition in planktivorous fishes

William M.C. Farland, Simon Levin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Many planktivorous fishes forage in currents, where they actively maintain position and visually strike at current-entrained zooplankton. In general, the zooplankton are wafted by the foraging fish at a rate equivalent to the current velocity. From a fish's viewpoint the plankton approach either head-on or offset at varied distances from the fish's position. We present a model that describes the relative motion of particles as they approach and pass a foraging fish at different offset distances, and the rate of change in apparent size as they close on a fish. In addition, a series of experiments of fish feeding on plankton in a flume at increasing current velocities revealed that two basic tactics are utilized. At low current velocities (< 10-14 cm s-1), the fish swims toward the prey, whereas at higher current velocities the fish tends to fall back with the current to capture a prey item. The model and experimental results are discussed in terms of the visual problems associated with the detection and tracking of items in motion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-85
Number of pages17
JournalMarine and Freshwater Behaviour and Physiology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Mar 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oceanography
  • Physiology
  • Aquatic Science


  • Current velocity
  • Loom
  • Planktivorous fish
  • Relative motion plankton


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