Marine Biology

, Volume 151, Issue 4, pp 1463–1470 | Cite as

The effects of zooplankton swimming behavior on prey-capture kinematics of red drum larvae, Sciaenops ocellatus

  • J. L. BeckEmail author
  • R. G. Turingan
Research Article


Most marine fishes undergo a pelagic larval phase, the early life history stage that is often associated with a high rate of mortality due to starvation and predation. We present the first study that examines the effects of prey swimming behavior on prey-capture kinematics in marine fish larvae. Using a digital high-speed video camera, we recorded the swimming velocity of zooplankton prey (Artemia franciscana, Brachionus rotundiformis, a ciliate species, and two species of copepods) and the feeding behavior of red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus) larvae. From the video recordings we measured: (1) zooplankton swimming velocity in the absence of a red drum larva; (2) zooplankton swimming velocity in the presence of a red drum larva; and (3) the excursion and timing of key kinematic events during prey capture in red drum larvae. Two-way ANOVA revealed that: (1) swimming velocity varied among zooplankton prey; and (2) all zooplankton prey, except rotifers and ciliates, increased their swimming velocity in the presence of a red drum larva. The kinematics of prey capture differed between two developmental stages in S. ocellatus larvae. Hyoid-stage larvae (3–14 days old) fed on slow swimming B. rotundiformis (rotifers) while hyoid-opercular stage larvae (15 days and older) ate fast moving A. franciscana. Hyoid-opercular stage red drum larvae had a larger gape, hyoid depression and lower jaw angle, and a longer gape cycle duration relative to their hyoid-stage conspecifics. Interestingly, the feeding repertoire within either stage of red drum development was not affected by prey type. Knowledge of the direct relationship between fish larvae and their prey aids in our understanding of optimal foraging strategies and of the sources of mortality in marine fish larvae.


Fish Larva Prey Type Prey Capture Swimming Velocity Exogenous Feeding 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank Bill Halstead (Florida Marine Research Institute Stock Enhancement Research Facility) for supplying the red drum larvae, as well as G. Joan Holt (University of Texas) and Adelaide Rhodes (North Carolina State University) for providing the copepod species. We thank Christopher Durie and an anonymous reviewer for their comments on a previous draft of this manuscript. Experiments were conducted in accordance with the regulations of the Florida Institute of Technology Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). This study was supported by Florida Sea Grant, NOAA research grants to RGT.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological Sciences Florida Institute of Technology MelbourneUSA
  2. 2.Department of Marine BiologyTexas A&M UniversityGalvestonUSA

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