Disturbed flow in an aquatic environment may create a sensory refuge for aggregated prey

Asa Johannesen, Alison M. Dunn, Lesley J. Morrell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)


Predators use olfactory cues moved within water and air to locate prey. Because prey aggregations may produce more cue and be easier to detect, predation could limit aggregation size. However, disturbance in the flow may diminish the reliability of odour as a prey cue, impeding predator foraging success and efficiency. We explore how different cue concentrations (as a proxy for prey group size) affect risk to prey by fish predators in disturbed (more turbulent or mixed) and non-disturbed (less mixed) flowing water. We find that increasing odour cue concentration increases predation risk and disturbing the flow reduces predation risk. At high cue concentration fish were able to locate the cue source in both disturbed and non-disturbed flow, but at medium concentrations, predators only located the cue source more often than expected by chance in non-disturbed flow. This suggests that objects disturbing flow provide a sensory refuge allowing prey to form larger groups, but that group sizes may be limited by level of disturbance to the flow.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere3121
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Predator-prey interaction
  • flow
  • Olfaction
  • Stickleback
  • Olfactory foraging
  • Prey aggregation
  • Animal Behavior


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