Behavior of prey links midwater and demersal piscivorous reef fishes

Pelagic and demersal guilds of piscivorous fishes are linked by a variety of biological and physical processes that mediate interactions with common prey species. Understanding the behaviors of predators and prey can provide insight into the conditions that make such linkages possible. Here we report on the behaviors of mid-water piscivorous fishes and the responses of prey that produce feeding opportunities for demersal piscivorous fishes associated with "live bottom" ledge habitats off the coast of Georgia (northwest Atlantic Ocean). Prey taxa reduced nearest neighbor distances and retreated towards the seafloor during predatory attacks by mid-water fishes. Demersal fishes subsequently attacked and consumed prey in these ephemeral high density patches. No predation by demersal fishes was observed when prey species were at background densities. If the predator-prey interactions of demersal piscivorous fishes are commonly mediated by the predatory behavior of midwater piscivorous fishes and their prey, such indirect facilitative behaviors may be important in terms of the population processes (e.g., prey consumption and growth rates) of these demersal fishes.

Habitat; Reefs; Live bottom; Prey density

Sociedade Brasileira de Ictiologia Universidade Estadual de Maringá, Núcleo de Pesquisas em Limnologia, Ictiologia e Aquicultura/Coleção Ictiologia, Av. Colombo, 5790, 87020-900 Maringá, PR, Brasil, Tel.: (55 44)3011 4632 - Maringá - PR - Brazil