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Oecologia. 1987 Aug;73(1):127-132. doi: 10.1007/BF00376988.

Use of cover and the need to breathe: the effects of hypoxia on vulnerability of dwarf gouramis to predatory snakeheads.

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Department of Biology, McGill University, 1205 Avenue Docteur Penfield, H3A 1B1, Montréal, Québec, Canada.


The behavior of dwarf gouramis (Colisa lalia, Pisces, Belontiidae) and their vulnerability to predation by snakeheads (Channa micropeltes, Pisces, Channidae) were observed at four dissolved oxygen concentrations. When the oxygen level was near saturation (8 ppm) or only moderately reduced (3 ppm), the gouramis rarely breathed air and spent most of their time in a patch of artificial vegetation. At extremely low oxygen concentrations (1 and 0 ppm) the gouramis increased their air-breathing frequency and spent less time in cover. Gouramis were more likely to be captured by the snakeheads when out of the vegetation, and thus were caught more quickly at lower oxygen levels, even though their air-breathing frequency declined and use of cover increased in the presence of the predators. These results indicate that dissolved oxygen concentration, which varies considerably in many fish habitats, can affect use of cover and risk of predation in fishes.


Cost of breathing; Habitat selection; Predator-prey relations; Refuge; Respiration


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