How prey fish detect and evade fish predators
Bill Stewart
UC Riverside
From: 11:00 AM To: 12:00 PM
Thursday, Feb 27, 2014
Burns Lecture Hall, Keck Science Center
A fish’s ability to catch prey and evade predators is critical to survival and influences the ecology and evolution of many fish species. In spite of the importance of predator-prey interactions in fish, we do not understand how prey fish accomplish the remarkable feat of evading an attack. To address this, I have employed a variety of experimental techniques from biomechanics and physiology to show that prey fish use the flow-sensitive lateral line system to detect attacking predators. After sensing the water flow produced by the predator’s approach, successful prey initiate an evasive response at an intermediate distance from the predator. These findings show that flow sensing and the timing of the motor response is crucial for prey survival. To further elucidate the sensory signals that startle prey when approached by predators, I controlled the kinematics of a preserved predator using robotics and recorded the resultant prey responses in 3D. Flow quantification around the predator showed that the subtle flow disturbance in front of the approaching predator not only startles prey, but also alerts prey to the direction of an attack. Finally, I mathematically modeled the flow experienced by prey when attacked, and found that the motion of the prey body within a flow field heavily attenuates the signal available to the lateral line. Together, this work illustrates the remarkable ability of prey fish to evade predators using flow sensing.
Seminar Registered by: Velda Yount


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