Differential zooplankton feeding behaviors, selectivities, and community impacts of two planktivorous fishes

K. Davi Hambright, Robert O. Hall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


We examined the feeding behaviors and selectives of two common planktivorous fishes, pumpkinseeds Lepomis gibbosa and fathead minnows Pimephales promelas in the laboratory. Ingestion rates for both pumpkinseeds and fathead minnows feeding on zooplankton increased as a function of fish length. Pumpkinseeds fed on zooplankton strictly as particulate feeders, with preferences increasing as a function of zooplankton body size regardless of taxonomic identity. Preferences were highest for large Daphnia, intermediate for intermediate-sized copepods, and lowest for small Ceriodaphnia. Fathead minnows displayed the ability to use both particulate-feeding and filter-feeding behaviors. Differential preferences tended to reflect both zooplankton size and taxon, being highest for large, slow-swimming Daphnia, intermediate for small Ceriodaphnia, and lowest for faster-swimming copepods. These differences in prey capture behaviors and preferences of the two fishes are reflected in the zooplankton taxonomic composition of small ponds containing each fish type. The crustacean zooplankton assemblages in ponds containing both pumpkinseeds and fathead minnows were dominated by copepods. Cladocerans were rare. In ponds containing pumpkinseeds, but no fathead minnows, cladocerans were abundant, generally accounting for up to 80% of total crustacean zooplankton biomass. These results suggest that the type of planktivore, and not simply the presence or abundance of planktivores in a system, can determine zooplankton community structure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401-411
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Biology of Fishes
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1992


  • Filter-feeding
  • Freshwater ponds
  • Particulate-feeding
  • Predator-prey interaction
  • Prey selection
  • Zooplankton composition


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