The Inter University Institute for Marine science
Eilat, Israel
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China V.,Tel Aviv University | China V.,The Inter University Institute for Marine science | Levy L.,Tel Aviv University | Levy L.,The Inter University Institute for Marine science | And 4 more authors.
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2017

Larval fishes experience extreme mortality rates, with 99% of a cohort perishing within days after starting to actively feed. While recent evidence suggests that hydrodynamic factors contribute to constraining larval feeding during early ontogeny, feeding is a complex process that involves numerous interacting behavioural and biomechanical components. How these components change throughout ontogeny and how they contribute to feeding remain unclear. Using 339 observations of larval feeding attempts, we quantified the effects of morphological and behavioural traits on feeding success of Sparus aurata larvae during early ontogeny. Feeding success was determined using high-speed videography, under both natural and increased water viscosity treatments. Successful strikes were characterized by Reynolds numbers that were an order of magnitude higher than those of failed strikes. The pattern of increasing strike success with increasing age was driven by the ontogeny of traits that facilitate the transition to higher Reynolds numbers. Hence, the physical growth of a larva plays an important role in its transition to a hydrodynamic regime of higher Reynolds numbers, in which suction feeding is more effective. © 2017 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.

Messika I.,Ben - Gurion University of the Negev | Garrido M.,Ben - Gurion University of the Negev | Kedem H.,Ben - Gurion University of the Negev | China V.,Tel Aviv University | And 6 more authors.
Oecologia | Year: 2017

Elucidating the factors determining reproductive success has challenged scientists since Darwin, but the exact pathways that shape the evolution of life history traits by connecting extrinsic (e.g., landscape structure) and intrinsic (e.g., female’s age and endosymbionts) factors and reproductive success have rarely been studied. Here we collected female fleas from wild rodents in plots differing in their densities and proportions of the most dominant rodent species. We then combined path analysis and model selection approaches to explore the network of effects, ranging from micro to macroscales, determining the reproductive success of these fleas. Our results suggest that female reproductive success is directly and positively associated with their infection by Mycoplasma bacteria and their own body mass, and with the rodent species size and total density. In addition, we found evidence for indirect effects of rodent sex and rodent community diversity on female reproductive success. These results highlight the importance of exploring interrelated factors across organization scales while studying the reproductive success of wild organisms, and they have implications for the control of vector-borne diseases. © 2017 Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany

PubMed | The Inter University Institute for Marine science and Tel Aviv University
Type: Journal Article | Journal: The Journal of experimental biology | Year: 2014

Suction feeding is thought to be the primary mode of prey capture in most larval fishes. Similar to adult suction feeders, larvae swim towards their prey while rapidly expanding their mouth cavity to generate an inward flow of water that draws the prey into the mouth. Although larvae are known to experience flows with lower Reynolds numbers than adults, it is unclear how the suction-induced flow field changes throughout ontogeny, and how such changes relate to prey capture performance. To address these questions, we determined mouth dimensions and opening speeds in Sparus aurata from first-feeding larvae to adults. We proceeded to develop a computational model of mouth expansion in order to analyze the scaling of suction flows under the observed parameters. Larval fish produced suction flows that were around two orders of magnitude slower than those of adults. Compared with adult fish, in which flow speed decays steeply with distance in front of the mouth, flow speed decayed more gradually in larval fish. This difference indicates that viscous forces in low Reynolds number flows modify the spatial distribution flow speed in front of the mouth. Consequently, simulated predator-prey encounters showed that larval fish could capture inert prey from a greater distance compared with adults. However, if prey attempted to escape then larval fish performed poorly: simulations inferred capture success in only weakly escaping prey immediately in front of the mouth. These ontogenetic changes in Reynolds number, suction-induced flow field and feeding performance could explain a widespread ontogenetic diet shift from passive prey at early life stages to evasive prey as larvae mature.

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