For more information about this research or the RJD Program, please visit: rjd.miami.edu

While foraging, most animals are susceptible to predation because behaviors that enhance foraging opportunities typically also increase predation risk (e.g. increased activity levels). Moreover, habitats that contain the greatest food resources are often the most dangerous. Thus, a tradeoff often exists between foraging opportunities and the risk of predation. By sacrificing feeding rate for safety (e.g. shifting to safer but less profitable feeding patches) in response to risk, consumers can impact the behaviors and abundance of other organisms, which can initiate trophic cascades. Behavioral optimization theory and associated models provide a theoretical framework, which is applicable across taxa and systems, for studying the influence of food availability and predation risk on forager habitat use. In this project will examine food-risk tradeoffs in mangrove and coral reef fishes by conducting an integrated set of quantitative field studies. We are particularly interested in evaluating how fish anti-predator behaviors such as vigilance and predator avoidance change along mangroves-seagrass and coral reefs-seagrass gradients.

1. Does the diet and feeding intensity of mangrove and reef fishes differ seasonally?
2. How are fish diets and foraging behavior influenced by food availability?
3. Do mangrove fishes exhibit individual specialization in diet?
4. How does predation risk on fishes differ spatially with proximity to mangroves and reefs?
5. Does predation pressure on fishes differ between night and day in mangroves and reefs?
6. Do mangrove and reef fishes exhibit food risk tradeoffs? If so, what behaviors do they use to avoid being attacked by predators?

Video Editor: Keenan Warner
Contributing Cinematography: Christine Shepard
Contributing Photographer: Daniel Bohtelo
Contributing Photographer: Neil Hammerschlag
Contributing Photographer: Matthew Potenski

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