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Feeding tactics of a behaviorally plastic predator, summer flounder (Paralichthys dentatus)

Abstract
In a series of laboratory experiments, the feeding behaviors of summer flounder (Paralichthys dentatus) were examined in response to squid and fish prey. Attack and capture tactics were evaluated for their influence on capture success, handling time, and prey-type selectivity. The ambush tactic was the primary behavior (50.6%) used to attack squid. Secondary attack types included active pursuit (42.7%) and stalking (6.7%). Regardless of the prey species targeted or the type of attack employed, summer flounder were equally efficient in capturing prey; capture success rates ranged from 50%–83%. The majority of prey were swallowed in a headfirst orientation (55.3% of squid), however swallow alignment did not significantly affect handling time. Approach times during ambush attacks were greater overall in comparison to active attacks, and relative prey size significantly affected capture times. Despite additional costs in handling time, summer flounder actively selected for mummichogs (Fundulus spp.) (attack rate (attacks per minute) = 0.11) over longfin squid (Loligo pealeii) (0.08) and Atlantic silversides (Menidia menidia) (0.02). Differential attack rates favoring mummichogs suggests a preference towards demersal prey. In the presence of relatively large, fast-moving, and pelagic prey, summer flounder used a greater diversity of attack tactics than have been observed previously under controlled conditions. The behavioral plasticity exhibited by summer flounder is likely mediated by prey behavior and local availability of prey resources in inshore and offshore environments.
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2010-01-01
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