, Volume 13, Issue 12, pp 2911-2924
Date: 25 Feb 2011

Can a highly invasive species re-invade its native community? The paradox of the red shiner

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Abstract

Red shiners (Cyprinella lutrensis) are among the most widespread, ecologically general, and environmentally tolerant fish species in North America, and are highly invasive where they have been introduced outside their native range. However, long-term data on fish assemblages showed that red shiners gradually (1980s to 2006) disappeared from creeks that are direct tributaries of Lake Texoma (Oklahoma, USA) where they are native and historically had been numerically dominant. Following a major flood in 2007, red shiners were detected anew in some of these creeks, but repeatedly disappeared and re-appeared through November 2009. Given their invasive abilities where they are not native, their failure to become re-established prompted us to examine factors that affect their apparent inability to re-invade their native habitat. We established assemblages of five common fish taxa native to Brier Creek in 12 large, outdoor mesocosm stream units. Subsequently, we introduced red shiners at two densities of 10 or 30 per unit, six replicates each, to examine potential effects of propagule pressure on establishment success. Approximately six months later, we ended the experiment and recovered all fish. Red shiners failed to become established in the experimental units, regardless of initial stocking density. They also exhibited much lower survival than other species in the native community, which not only survived well but exhibited some recruitment. Red shiner survival was significantly negatively related to the number of sunfish (Lepomis spp.) that grew to adult size in experimental units, suggesting that predation can inhibit early stages of invasion by red shiners.