This study assessed the cannibalistic behaviour of juvenile barramundi Lates calcarifer and examined the relationship between prey size selection and energy gain of cannibals. Prey handling time and capture success by cannibals were used to estimate the ratio of energy gain to energy cost in prey selection. Cannibals selected smaller prey despite its capability of ingesting larger prey individuals. In behavioural analysis, prey handling time significantly increased with prey size, but it was not significantly affected by cannibal size. Conversely, capture success significantly decreased with the increase of both prey and cannibal sizes. The profitability indices showed that the smaller prey provides the most energy return for cannibals of all size classes. These results indicate that L. calcarifer cannibals select smaller prey for more profitable return. The behavioural analysis, however, indicates that L. calcarifer cannibals attack prey of all size at a similar rate but ingest smaller prey more often, suggesting that prey size selection is passively orientated rather than at the predator's choice. The increase of prey escape ability and morphological constraint contribute to the reduction of intracohort cannibalism as fish grow larger. This study contributes to the understanding of intracohort cannibalism and development of strategies to reduce fish cannibalistic mortalities.
- Capture success
- Optimal foraging