Stomach fullness modulates prey size choice in the frillfin goby, Bathygobius soporator

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2012-10-01

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Elsevier Gmbh, Urban & Fischer Verlag

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Behaviours related to foraging and feeding in predator-prey systems are fundamental to our understanding of food webs. From the perspective of a predator, the selection of prey size depends upon a number of factors including prey vulnerability, prey size, and the predator's motivation to eat. Thus, feeding motivation and prey visual cues are supposed to influence predator decisions and it is predicted that prey selection by visual cues is modulated by the predator's stomach fullness prior to attacking a prey. This study was conducted using an animal model from the rocky shores ecosystem, a predatory fish, the frillfin goby Bathygobius soporator, and a benthic prey, the mottled shore crab Pachygrapsus transversus. Our results demonstrate that frillfin gables are capable of visually evaluating prey size and that the size evaluation process is modulated by the level of stomach fullness. Predators with an empty stomach (0% fullness) attacked prey that was larger than the predicted optimal size. Partially satiated predators (50% stomach fullness) selected prey close to the optimal size, while fully satiated predators (100% stomach fullness) showed no preference for size. This finding indicates an integrative response of the predator that depends on the input of both internal and external sensory information when choosing prey. Predator perceptions of visual cues (prey size) and stomach fullness modulate foraging decisions. As a result, a flexible feeding behaviour emerges, evidencing a clearly adaptive response in line with optimal foraging theory predictions. (C) 2012 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.

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Zoology. Jena: Elsevier Gmbh, Urban & Fischer Verlag, v. 115, n. 5, p. 283-288, 2012.

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