Journal of Freshwater Ecology
Taylor & Francis
Predation, larval fish, prey density, larval drift, prey switching, predator swamping, lake sturgeon
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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.
Justin Waraniak, Shaley Valentine & Kim Scribner (2017) Effects of changes in alternative prey densities on predation of drifting lake sturgeon larvae (Acipenser fulvescens), Journal of Freshwater Ecology, 32:1, 619-632, DOI: 10.1080/02705060.2017.1375440