Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Turbidity and foraging rate in threespine sticklebacks: the importance of visual and chemical prey cues

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


M. M. Webster, N. Atton, A. J. W. Ward, P. J. B. Hart

School/Research organisations


In aquatic habitats turbidity can affect the foraging efficiency of visual predators, directly influencing their capacity to detect prey. In a laboratory study we tested the effect of different loads of suspended sediment upon the foraging rates of threespine sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus). We compared the foraging rates of fish under a series of different turbidity treatments, testing fish originating from four habitats within a single drainage basin that differed in a number of environmental parameters including turbidity. Although we found habitat specific differences in foraging rates, these did not correspond to local turbidity levels. The findings of a follow up experiment revealed habitat-specific variation in boldness, which may be indirecly linked to the observed differences in foraging rate. The main finding of our study was that turbidity alone had no impact upon their prey capture rates, but that high turbidity in combination with saturation with prey odour extract caused prey capture rates to fall significantly. This suggests that olfactory cues can be more important than visual cues in determining foraging performance in this species, potentially influencing how they cope with naturally occurring periods of turbidity, and how they adapt to human-induced eutrophication.



Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1347-1360
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2007

    Research areas

  • eutrophication, gasterosteus aculeatus, habitat complexity, predator-prey interactions, COD GADUS-MORHUA, GASTEROSTEUS-ACULEATUS, 3-SPINED STICKLEBACKS, REACTIVE DISTANCE, SELECTION, BOLDNESS, WATER, SUCCESS, EXPERIENCE, RESPONSES

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. A four-questions perspective on public information use in sticklebacks (Gasterosteidae)

    Webster, M. M., Chouinard-Thuly, L., Herczeg, G., Kitano, J., Riley, R. J., Rogers, S., Shapiro, M. D., Shikano, T. & Laland, K. N., 20 Feb 2019, In : Royal Society Open Science. 6, 2, 24 p., 181735.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. No experimental evidence of stress-induced hyperthermia in zebrafish (Danio rerio)

    Jones, N. A. R., Mendo, T., Broell, F. & Webster, M. M., 24 Jan 2019, In : Journal of Experimental Biology. 222, 2, 8 p., jeb.192971.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Cohesion, order and information flow in the collective motion of mixed-species shoals

    Ward, A., Schaerf, T., Burns, A., Lizier, J., Crosato, E., Prokopenko, M. & Webster, M. M., 12 Dec 2018, In : Royal Society Open Science. 5, 12, 14 p., 181132.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Experience shapes social information use in foraging fish

    Webster, M. M. & Laland, K. N., Dec 2018, In : Animal Behaviour. 146, p. 63-70

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related by journal

  1. Cultural evolution of killer whale calls: background, mechanisms and consequences

    Filatova, O. A., Samarra, F. I. P., Deecke, V. B., Ford, J. K. B., Miller, P. J. O. & Yurk, H., 2015, In : Behaviour. 152, 15, p. 2001-2038 38 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature review

  2. Early-life nutritional stress affects associative learning and spatial memory but not performance on a novel object test

    Kriengwatana, B., Farrell, T. M., Aitken, S. D. T., Garcia, L. & MacDougall-Shackleton, S. A., 2015, In : Behaviour. 152, 2, p. 195-218 24 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Association tendency and preference for heterospecifics in an invasive species

    Camacho-Cervantes, M., Ojanguren, A. F., Deacon, A. E., Ramnarine, I. W. & Magurran, A. E., 2014, In : Behaviour. 151, 6, p. 769-780 12 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. The influence of population mixing on newborn shoaling behaviour in the guppy (Poecilia reticulata)

    Sievers, C., Ramnarine, I. W. & Magurran, A. E., 2014, In : Behaviour. 151, 10, p. 1479-1490 12 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

ID: 628752