Individual willingness to leave a safe refuge and the trade-off between food and safety: A test with social fish

Jesse Balaban-Feld, William A. Mitchell, Burt P. Kotler, Sundararaj Vijayan, Lotan T. Tov Elem, Michael L. Rosenzweig, Zvika Abramsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Refuges offer prey animals protection from predation, but increased time spent hiding can reduce foraging opportunities. Within social groups, individuals vary in their refuge use and willingness to forage in the presence of a predator. Here, we examine the relative foraging benefits and mortality costs associated with individual refuge use and foraging behaviour within groups of goldfish (Carassius auratus) under predation risk from an avian predator (little egret-Egretta garzetta). We assessed individual order of emergence from the refuge and participation over 15 group foraging outings, and assigned each fish a daily outing index score. The individual fish that emerged from the refuge earlier than the other group members and that participated in more outings received high outing index scores and consumed more food compared with fish that tended to emerge in posterior positions and participate in fewer outings. However, individual fish that attained high outing index scores suffered a higher risk of predation. Furthermore, the amount of time the egret spent at the pool affected group foraging behaviour: as predation risk increased, groups of fish consumed significantly less food. Our results exemplify the trade-off between foraging success and safety from predation that prey species regularly experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20190826
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1907
StatePublished - Jul 24 2019


  • Benefits
  • Costs
  • Foraging success
  • Mortality risk
  • Predator-prey
  • Trade-off

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Environmental Science
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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