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Disturbed flow in an aquatic environment may create a sensory refuge for aggregated prey

Johannesen, Asa; Dunn, Alison M.; Morrell, Lesley J.


Asa Johannesen

Alison M. Dunn


Predators use olfactory cues moved within water and air to locate prey. Because prey aggregations may produce more cue and be easier to detect, predation could limit aggregation size. However, disturbance in the flow may diminish the reliability of odour as a prey cue, impeding predator foraging success and efficiency. We explore how different cue concentrations (as a proxy for prey group size) affect risk to prey by fish predators in disturbed (more turbulent or mixed) and non-disturbed (less mixed) flowing water. We find that increasing odour cue concentration increases predation risk and disturbing the flow reduces predation risk. At high cue concentration fish were able to locate the cue source in both disturbed and non-disturbed flow, but at medium concentrations, predators only located the cue source more often than expected by chance in non-disturbed flow. This suggests that objects disturbing flow provide a sensory refuge allowing prey to form larger groups, but that group sizes may be limited by level of disturbance to the flow.


Johannesen, A., Dunn, A. M., & Morrell, L. J. (2017). Disturbed flow in an aquatic environment may create a sensory refuge for aggregated prey. PeerJ, 5, Article e3121.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 25, 2017
Online Publication Date Mar 28, 2017
Publication Date Mar 28, 2017
Deposit Date Mar 30, 2017
Publicly Available Date Mar 30, 2017
Journal PeerJ
Electronic ISSN 2167-8359
Publisher PeerJ
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 5
Article Number e3121
Keywords Predator-prey interaction; Flow; Olfaction; Stickleback; Olfactory foraging; Prey aggregation
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Copy of article first published in: PeerJ, 2017, v.5, article number e3121.


Article.pdf (192 Kb)

Copyright Statement
© 2017 Johannesen et al.<br /> This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, reproduction and adaptation in any medium and for any purpose provided that it is properly attributed. For attribution, the original author(s), title, publication source (PeerJ) and either DOI or URL of the article must be cited.

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