The present studies address feeding of plankton in turbulent environments, discussed by a comparison of analytical results and field data. Various models for predator-prey encounters and capture probabilities are reviewed. Generalized forms for encounter rates and capture probabilities in turbulent environments are proposed. The analysis emphasizes ambush predators, exemplified by cod larvae Gadus morhua L. in the start-feeding phase (stage 7 larvae) collected in shallow waters near Lofoten, Norway. During this campaign, data were obtained at four sites with strongly turbulent conditions induced by tidal currents and long-wave swells, and one site where the turbulence had a lower level in comparison. The guts of the selected cod larvae were examined in order to determine the number of nauplii ingested. Analytically obtained probability densities for the gut content were compared with observations and the results used for estimating the rate of capture of the nauplii. This capture rate was then compared with analytical results using also data for the surroundings, such as measured prey densities and turbulence conditions, as quantified by the specific energy dissipation rate. Different from earlier studies, the presented data include conditions where the turbulence exceeds the level for optimal larval encounter-capture rates.
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