The fountain darter Etheostoma fonticola is a federally endangered species that is associated with primarily clear, spring-fed systems, suggesting even minor changes in turbidity have the potential to affect behavior. We examined the effects of turbidity [control: <1 Nephelometric Turbidity Unit (NTU), minimal turbidity: mean = 8.7 NTU, moderate turbidity: mean = 23.2 NTU, and high turbidity: mean = 74.6 NTU] on the total number of prey items consumed, time to initiate foraging, total prey consumed out of the time left to forage, and number of strikes made per prey items (prey capture success). Our results indicate elevated turbidity significantly affects the number of prey consumed, time to initiate foraging, and total prey consumed out of the time left to forage. Turbidity does not appear to affect prey capture success. These data suggest even a slight elevation in turbidity (≥8.7 NTU) can significantly impair foraging behavior in E. fonticola.
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