The biology of the prickly sculpin was investigated in Clear Lake, Lake County, California in order to determine how it has persisted in the face of introductions of numerous exotic species when most other native species have declined in abundance or have become extinct. Sculpins over 15 mm SL inhabited all types of benthic habitats in the lake, while post larval sculpins were pelagic when the postlarvae of exotic species were absent. The feeding ecology of sculpins was distinct from the other fishes in the lake in that they fed largely on amphipods and chironomid midge larvae regardless of the time of year, time of day, or habitat. Sculpins were uncommon in the stomachs of piscivorous fishes, except juvenile largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides). It is concluded that prickly sculpins have persisted in Clear Lake in part because they are ecologically distinct from the exotic species and are not preyed upon by them to any great extent, and in part because they have managed to survive other man-related perturbations of this ecosystem.
Feeding ecology Predation Competition Introductions Exotic species Native species