Marine Biology

, Volume 152, Issue 4, pp 939–957 | Cite as

Swimming behavior of juvenile anchovies (Anchoa spp.) in an episodically hypoxic estuary: implications for individual energetics and trophic dynamics

  • J. Christopher TaylorEmail author
  • Peter S. Rand
  • Jacqueline Jenkins
Research Article


Diel swimming behaviors of juvenile anchovies (Anchoa spp.) were observed using stationary hydroacoustics and synoptic physicochemical and zooplankton profiles during four unique water quality scenarios in the Neuse River Estuary, NC, USA. Vertical distribution of fish was restricted to waters with DO greater than 2.5 mg O2 l−1, except when greater than 70% of the water column was hypoxic and a subset of fish were occupying water with 1 mg O2 l−1. We made the prediction that an individual fish would select a swim speed that would maximize net energy gain given the abundance and availability of prey in the normoxic waters. During the day, fish adopted swim speeds between 7 and 8.8 bl s−1 that were near the theoretical optimum speeds between 7.0 and 8.0 bl s−1. An exception was found during severe hypoxia, when fish were swimming at 60% above the optimum speed (observed speed = 10.6 bl s−1, expected = 6.4 bl s−1). The anchovy is a visual planktivore; therefore, we expected a diel activity pattern characteristic of a diurnal species, with quiescence at night to minimize energetic costs. Under stratified and hypoxic conditions with high fish density coupled with limited prey availability, anchovies sustained high swimming speeds at night. The sustained nighttime activity resulted in estimated daily energy expenditure over 20% greater than fish that adopted a diurnal activity pattern. We provide evidence that the sustained nighttime activity patterns are a result of foraging at night due to a lower ration achieved during the day. During severe hypoxic events, we also observed individual fish making brief forays into the hypoxic hypolimnion. These bottom waters generally contained higher prey (copepod) concentrations than the surface waters. The bay anchovy, a facultative particle forager, adopts a range of behaviors to compensate for the effects of increased conspecific density and reduced prey availability in the presence of stratification-induced hypoxia.


Swimming Speed Sampling Occasion Pelagic Fish Fish Density Target Strength 
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 greatly appreciate the assistance of B. Balaszi, J. Chaves, C. Bergeron, B. Devoy, C. Yoder in the field. C. Bergeron and C. Yoder assisted with processing zooplankton samples in the laboratory and S. Johnston, K. Kumagai, and P. Nealson provided advice and assistance with hydroacoustic data analysis. The work benefited from discussions with L. Avens, B. Burke, J. Buckel, K. Craig, N. Reyns, S. Searcy, and J. Tuomikoski. This project was made possible by funding through an US EPA STAR Fellowship (U−913885) to JCT and a NOAA Sea Grant College Program grant to North Carolina Sea Grant at North Carolina State University (Grant no. R/MRD-44) to PSR.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Christopher Taylor
    • 1
    Email author
  • Peter S. Rand
    • 2
  • Jacqueline Jenkins
    • 3
  1. 1.Center or Marine Sciences and TechnologyNorth Carolina State UniversityMorehead CityUSA
  2. 2.The Wild Salmon CenterPortlandUSA
  3. 3.Cape Fear Community CollegeWilmingtonUSA

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