AB 17:129-139 (2012)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/ab00470

Selective feeding on nutrient-rich particles by gizzard shad Dorosoma cepedianum does not involve mechanical sorting

M. K. Heidman1, L. L. Holley1,2, R. M. Chambers1, S. L. Sanderson1,*

1Department of Biology, College of William & Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia 23187, USA
2Present address: Cardno ENTRIX, Houston, Texas 77005, USA
*Email:

ABSTRACT: Previous field and laboratory studies have concluded that suspension-feeding detritivorous fish such as gizzard shad Dorosoma cepedianum selectively ingest nutrient-rich particles using either mechanical sorting within the oropharyngeal cavity or behavioral selectivity within the environment, but none have distinguished between these hypothesized selection mechanisms. To determine whether mechanical selectivity occurs within the oropharyngeal cavity, gizzard shad were fed particles of standardized size but different carbon and nitrogen content in homogeneous particle suspensions vs. non-homogeneous particle distributions. By comparing foregut and epibranchial organ contents with the particles available in a homogeneous suspension, we demonstrated that the fish did not use mechanical selection for nutrient-rich particles. Previously published hypotheses for intraoral selection of nutrient-rich particles in gizzard shad using crossflow filtration or gustatory receptors were not supported. However, when particles with different nutrient content were allowed to settle in a heterogeneous distribution, the nutrients in the foregut and epibranchial organs were 1.5 times higher than those of particles in the water and 2.5 times higher than those of settled particles (p ≤ 0.0001). As a test of one potential behavioral mechanism of particle selection, disturbance of the sediment−water interface resulted in significantly higher organic carbon (p = 0.01) and nitrogen (p = 0.001) within 1 to 2 cm of the bottom compared to the overlying water and the bottom sediment. Thus, future laboratory and field studies should focus on potential behavioral mechanisms of particle selectivity in detritivorous fish suspension feeding on non-homogeneous distributions of small particles (<<1 mm).


KEY WORDS: Suspension feeding · Filter feeding · Feeding selectivity · Particle selection · Detritivory · Dorosoma cepedianum · Crossflow filtration


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Cite this article as: Heidman MK, Holley LL, Chambers RM, Sanderson SL (2012) Selective feeding on nutrient-rich particles by gizzard shad Dorosoma cepedianum does not involve mechanical sorting. Aquat Biol 17:129-139. https://doi.org/10.3354/ab00470

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