• The Influence Of Water Velocity And Depth On Prey Detection And Capture By Juvenile Coho Salmon And Steelhead: Implications For Habitat Selection And Segregation

      Piccolo, John J.; Hughes, Nicholas F. (2005)
      I studied the effects of water velocity and depth on drift-foraging by juvenile coho salmon and steelhead to assess how these influence their reported habitat segregation into pools and riffles, respectively. I used three-dimensional video analysis of stream-tank foraging experiments to test how velocity and depth influence prey capture probabilities, and the geometry and dynamics of prey detection and capture. I used the experimental results to develop net energy intake models to predict optimal foraging velocities for coho and steelhead. Prey capture probabilities for both coho and steelhead declined from $65% to 10% with an increase in velocity from 0.29 to 0.61 m · sec -1, with little difference between the species. Capture maneuver characteristics were similar for both species, including reduced prey detection distance and capture probabilities within the capture area, constant prey interception speed, and increasing return speed. I conclude that faster velocity reduces prey capture success by coho and steelhead, but that differences in capture abilities are not responsible for habitat segregation. Prey capture probabilities for both species were constant at ~40% at depths from 0.15 to 0.60 m, with little difference between the species. Capture maneuver characteristics were similar for both species, including increased prey detection distance and interception speed, and constant return speed. I predict that prey capture rate increases proportionally to water depth for coho and steelhead, but that differences in capture probabilities are not responsible for habitat segregation. I used the experimental results to develop net energy intake models that predicted optimum foraging velocities of 0.29 m · s-1 for coho and 0.30 m · s-1 steelhead. Modeled 10% and 25% increases in swimming costs for coho reduced optimum velocity by 0 and 0.01 m · s-1, respectively. These results, coupled with those from the depth experiments, suggest that habitat segregation may be due to factors other than short-term foraging considerations. I propose that these are largely selective mechanisms such as size-based habitat selection, differences in growth trajectories, or prey specialization. I do not discount the possibility that interactive mechanisms are also important, especially at periods of high fish density or limited prey availability.