Using an automated shuttlebox system, we conducted patch choice experiments with 32, 8–12 g bluegill sunfish (Lepomis macrochirus) to test a behavioral energetics hypothesis of habitat choice. When patch temperature and food levels were held constant within patches but different between patches, we expected bluegill to choose patches that maximized growth based on the bioenergetic integration of food and temperature as predicted by a bioenergetics model. Alternative hypotheses were that bluegill may choose patches based only on food (optimal foraging) or temperature (behavioral thermoregulation). The behavioral energetics hypothesis was not a good predictor of short-term (from minutes to weeks) patch choice by bluegill; the behavioral thermoregulation hypothesis was the best predictor. In the short-term, food and temperature appeared to affect patch choice hierarchically; temperature was more important, although food can alter temperature preference during feeding periods. Over a 19-d experiment, mean temperatures occupied by fish offered low rations did decline as predicted by the behavioral energetics hypothesis, but the decline was less than 1.0 °C as opposed to a possible 5 °C decline. A short-term, bioenergetic response to food and temperature may be precluded by physiological costs of acclimation not considered explicitly in the behavioral energetics hypothesis.
|Title||Testing a bioenergetics-based habitat choice model: bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus) responses to food availability and temperature|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Columbia Environmental Research Center|