Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Effects of turbidity on the spontaneous and prey-searching activity of juvenile Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua)

Increasing turbidity in coastal waters in the north Atlantic and adjacent seas has raised concerns about impacts on Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) using these areas as nurseries. A previous experiment (Meager et al. 2005) has shown that turbidity (up to 28 beam attenuation m-1) had little effect on the foraging rate of juvenile cod. Although this was attributed to cod using chemoreception in conjunction with vision to locate prey, foraging rates may also be maintained by increased activity. Higher activity, however, is energetically costly and may offset benefits from increased foraging return.

We examined the effects of turbidity on prey searching and spontaneous activity of juvenile cod in the laboratory, by measuring activity with and without prey cues. Activity of juvenile cod was non-linearly affected by turbidity and was lower at intermediate turbidity, regardless of the presence of prey odour. Activity increased over time when prey odour was present and decreased when absent, but the effects of prey odour were similar across all turbidity levels. Position in the tank was unaffected by turbidity or prey odour. Reduced activity at intermediate turbidities is likely to offset longer prey-search times. At high turbidity (> 17m -1), both longer prey-search times and higher activity indicate that increased energetic costs are likely.


Justin J. MEAGER, (Researcher)
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