Relative effects of turbidity and light intensity on reactive distance and feeding of an estuarine fish.
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Gulf killifish Fundulus grandis were allowed to prey on daggerblade grass shrimp Palaemonetes pugio in clear water with bright light, turbid water containing bentonite clay, and clear water treatments where the light intensity was adjusted to match that in the bottom of the turbid tanks. Significantly few shrimp were consumed in the turbid tanks relative to the clear and shade treatments where predation rates did not differ significantly. The results suggested that the influence of suspended particles on predation rates was a consequence of light scattering and was not related to decrease in light intensity. Reactive distances were subsequently determined for human observers viewing a small target in elongated tanks containing turbid water (7.2-60.5 NTU) under conditions of both low and high illumination. Reactive distance was primarily governed by turbidity while light intensity had little influence except at low turbidities. The shape of the relationship between reactive distance and turbidity for humans resembled curves reported for a variety of fish species.