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Volume III, 2003

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This study was performed to observe the effect of the blue crab, Callinectes similis, on the habitat preference of its prey, pinfish, Lagodon rhomboides. It was hypothesized that the pinfish would prefer the most structurally complex habitat, the live oyster clumps, but in the absence of a predator, may not show a strong association with the live oyster. It was also thought that the addition of a predator would strengthen the association with the live oyster. The experiment consisted of placing pinfish in a pool containing four distinct habitat types. The habitats were sand bottom (the least complex), oyster shell, coquina rock, and living oyster (most complex). The proportion of time spent in each habitat was determined using frequency occurrence. It was found that pinfish alone preferred the oyster habitat. When the predator was added, there was no change in the preferred habitat, even though the predator remained within the live oyster during most observation periods. The oyster offers the most protection to the pinfish, and the mobility of fish is also much greater than that of crab, allowing the pinfish to remain amongst their preferred habitat more easily.

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