Document Type

Article

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Journal of Freshwater Ecology

Volume

32

Issue

1

Publisher

Taylor & Francis

Publication Date

9-13-2017

Keywords

Predation, larval fish, prey density, larval drift, prey switching, predator swamping, lake sturgeon

First Page

619

Last Page

632

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Abstract

Predator–prey interactions including prey switching, predator swamping, and size-selectivity are important in maintaining multi-species systems. In fishes, early life stages are often recruitment bottlenecks due to high mortality partially caused by predation. High mortality is of particular concern for threatened species such as lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens). Effects of different relative prey densities were examined using two predatory fishes [rock bass (Ambloplites rupestris) and hornyhead chub (Nocomis biguttatus)] and two density treatments of three prey [lake sturgeon, mayflies (Family: Heptageniidae), and suckers (Family: Catostomidae)]. Treatments consisted of prey introduced to predators in a series of pulses 30 min apart. In the initial low-density treatment, predators were offered prey at a pulse of prey at a 13:13:4 ratio of mayfly, suckers, and lake sturgeon, and a second pulse with a 1:1:1 prey ratio during the second pulse. In the equal-density treatment prey numbers were equivalent during both pulses. Larval sturgeon survival, predator preference, and size selection were measured for each trial. Lake sturgeon were the least preferred prey species while mayflies were positively selected. Hornyhead chub preference for lake sturgeon was higher in the equal-density treatment than in the low-density, indicating initial prey availability affected predator foraging behaviour. High densities of preferred macroinvertebrate prey could protect threatened lake sturgeon larvae from predation.

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