Oecologia

, Volume 136, Issue 2, pp 289–295

The relative impacts of native and introduced predatory fish on a temporary wetland tadpole assemblage

Community Ecology

DOI: 10.1007/s00442-003-1251-2

Cite this article as:
Baber, M.J. & Babbitt, K.J. Oecologia (2003) 136: 289. doi:10.1007/s00442-003-1251-2

Abstract

Understanding the relative impacts of predators on prey may improve the ability to predict the effects of predator composition changes on prey assemblages. We experimentally examined the relative impact of native and introduced predatory fish on a temporary wetland amphibian assemblage to determine whether these predators exert distinct (unique or non-substitutable) or equivalent (similar) impacts on prey. Predatory fish included the eastern mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki), golden topminnow (Fundulus chrysotus), flagfish (Jordanella floridae), and the introduced walking catfish (Clarias batrachus). The tadpole assemblage included four common species known to co-occur in temporary wetlands in south-central Florida, USA: the oak toad (Bufo quercicus), pinewoods treefrog (Hyla femoralis), squirrel treefrog (Hyla squirella), and eastern narrowmouth toad (Gastrophryne carolinensis). Tadpoles were exposed to different predators in wading pools under conditions similar to those found in surrounding temporary wetlands (particularly in terms of substrate type, the degree of habitat complexity, and temperature). Native predators were similar with respect to predation rate and prey selectivity, suggesting similar energy requirements and foraging behavior. Conversely, native fish predators, especially G. holbrooki, were distinct from the introduced C. batrachus. In contrast to expectations, C. batrachus were less voracious predators than native fish, particularly G. holbrooki. Moreover, survival of G. carolinensis and H. femoralis were higher in the presence of C. batrachus than G. holbrooki. We suggest that C. batrachus was a less efficient predator than native fish because the foraging behavior of this species resulted in low predator-prey encounter rates, and thus predation rate. In combination with a related field study, our results suggest that native predatory fish play a stronger role than C. batrachus in influencing the spatial distribution and abundance of temporary wetland amphibians in the landscape.

Keywords

Fish assemblagesFunctional relationshipsLarval anuransPredationTemporary wetlands

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesFlorida International UniversityMiamiUSA
  2. 2.Department of Natural ResourcesUniversity of New HampshireDurhamUSA