Escape tactics used by bluegills and fathead minnows to avoid predation by tiger muskellunge
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Citation:Moody, Robert C.; Helland, John M.; Stein, Roy A. "Escape tactics used by bluegills and fathead minnows to avoid predation by tiger muskellunge," Environmental Biology of Fishes, v. 8, no. 1, 1983, pp. 61-65.
To explain why esocids prefer cylindrical, soft-rayed prey over compressed, spiny-rayed prey, we quantified behavioral interaction between tiger muskellunge (F1 hybrid of male northern pike Esox lucius and female muskellunge E. masquinongy) and fathead minnows (Pimephales promelas) and bluegills (Lepomis macrochirus). Tiger muskellunge required four times as many strikes and longer pursuits to capture bluegills than fathead minnows. Tiger muskellunge attacked each prey species differently; fathead minnows were grasped at midbody and bluegills were attacked in the caudal area. Each prey species exhibited different escape tactics. Fathead minnows remained in open water and consistently schooled; bluegills dispersed throughout the tank and sought cover by moving to corners and edges. Due to their antipredatory behavior (dispersing, cover seeking, and remaining motionless) and morphology (deep body and spines), bluegills were less susceptible to capture by tiger muskellunge than were fathead minnows.
Funding for this project was provided by the Federal Aid in Fish Restoration Act under Dingell-Johnson Project F-57-R.
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