, Volume 85, Issue 1, pp 69–73 | Cite as

An experimental study on the effects of crayfish on the predator-prey interaction between bass and sculpin

  • David L. McNeely
  • Brenda N. Futrell
  • Andrew Sih
Original Papers


  1. 1.

    We examined the hypothesis that in a one predator-two prey system, prey that share a common refuge might have indirect interactions mediated by their reciprocal effects on each other's refuge use. Our experiments were done in laboratory pools with plexiglas refuges, using predatory smallmouth bass, Micropterus dolemieui, that can consume crayfish, Orconectes putnami and mottled sculpin, Cottus bairdi.

  2. 2.

    Bass consumed 35% of the sculpin in 36 h. Bass predation rates on sculpin were significantly reduced in the presence of crayfish; i.e., crayfish had an indirect positive effect on sculpin. Predation rates on cray fish were low (1.7% in 36 h) and were not affected by the presence of sculpin.

  3. 3.

    The indirect effect of crayfish on sculpin can be explained in terms of patterns of sculpin refuge use. When bass were present, but crayfish were absent, only 14% of the sculpin were in refuge. Instead of going into refuge, sculpin responded to bass by “freezing” in place, with most sculpin outside of refuge; that is, sculpin responded to bass presence by decreasing overall movement, including entry rate into refuge and exit rate out of refuge. In contrast, in the presence of crayfish, sculpin responded to bass by increasing their use of refuge. The presence of crayfish allowed sculpin to have a 10 fold increase in entry rate into refuge and a 2.5 fold increase in refuge use, relative to when crayfish were absent. We suggest that these increases occurred because crayfish drew the attention of the bass away from sculpin.

  4. 4.

    Crayfish did not alter their refuge use or movement patterns in response to the presence of either bass or sculpin. In retrospect, this is not surprising, given the low bass predation rates on crayfish.


Key words

Predator-prey Indirect interactions Antipredator behavior Refuge use Sculpin 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abrams PA (1987) Indirect interactions between species that share a predator: varieties of indirect effects. In: Kerfoot WC, Sih A (eds) Predation: direct and indirect impacts on aquatic communities. University Press of New England, Hanover, NH, pp 38–54Google Scholar
  2. Baltz DM, Moyle PB, Knight NJ (1982) Competitive interactions between the benthic fishes, riffle sculpin (Cottus gulosus) and speckled dace (Rhinichthyes osculus). Can J Fish Aq Sci 39:1502–1511Google Scholar
  3. Bovberg RV (1970) Ecological isolation and competitive exclusion in two crayfish (Orconectes virilis and Orconectes immunis). Ecology 51:225–236Google Scholar
  4. Butler MV IV, Stein RA (1985) An analysis of the mechanisms governing species replacement in crayfish. Oecologia 66:168–177Google Scholar
  5. Capelli GM (1982) Displacement of northern Wisconsin crayfish by Orconectes rusticus (Girard). Limnol Oceanogr 27:741–744Google Scholar
  6. Carpenter SR (1988) Complex interactions in lake communities. Springer-Verlag, New York, NY, USAGoogle Scholar
  7. Diamond J, Case TJ (1986) Community Ecology. Harper & Row Publishers, New York, NY, USAGoogle Scholar
  8. Finger TR (1982) Interactive segregation among three species of sculpins (Cottus). Copeia 1982:680–684Google Scholar
  9. Holt RD (1977) Predation, apparent competition and the structure of prey communities. Theoret Pop Biol 12:197–229Google Scholar
  10. Holt RD, Kotler BP (1987) Short-term apparent competition. Am Nat 130:412–430Google Scholar
  11. Huang C, Sih A (1990) Experimental studies on behaviorally-mediated, indirect interactions through a shared predator. Ecology (in press)Google Scholar
  12. Jeffries MJ, Lawton JH (1984) Enemy free space and the structure of ecological communities. Biol J Linn Soc 23:269–286Google Scholar
  13. Kerfoot WC, Sih A (1987) Predation: direct and indirect impacts on aquatic communities. University Press of New England, Hanover, NHGoogle Scholar
  14. Matheson RE, Brooks GR (1983) Habitat segregation between Cottus bairdi and Cottus girardi: an example of complex inter-and intra-specific resource partitioning. Am Midl Nat 110:165–176Google Scholar
  15. McNeely DL (1987) Spatial relations among sculpins, darters, and crayfishes in an Appalachian stream. Bull Ecol Soc Am 68:365Google Scholar
  16. Mittelbach GG (1988) Competition among refuging sunfishes and effects of fish density on littoral zone invertebrates. Ecology 69:614–623Google Scholar
  17. Newsome GE, Gee JH (1978) Preference and selection of prey by creek chub (Semotilus atromaculatus) inhabiting the Mink River, Manitoba. Can J Zool 56:2486–2497Google Scholar
  18. Power ME, Matthews WJ, Stewart AJ (1985) Grazing minnows, piscivorous bass, and stream algae: dynamics of a strong interaction. Ecology 66:1448–1456Google Scholar
  19. Rabeni CF (1985) Resource partitioning by stream-dwelling crayfish: the influence of body size. Am Midl Nat 113:20–29Google Scholar
  20. Rahel FJ, Stein RA (1988) Complex predator-prey interactions and predator intimidation among crayfish, piscivorous fish, and small benthic fish. Oecologia 75:94–98Google Scholar
  21. Schlosser IJ (1987) The role of predation in age- and size-related habitat use by stream fishes. Ecology 68:651–659Google Scholar
  22. Schmitt RJ (1987) Indirect interactions between prey: apparent competition, predator aggregation, and habitat segregation. Ecology 68:1887–1897Google Scholar
  23. Sih A (1987) Predation and prey lifestyles: an evolutionary and ecological overview. In: Kerfoot WC, Sih A (eds) Predation: direct and indirect impacts on aquatic communities. University Press of New England, Hanover, NH, pp 203–224Google Scholar
  24. Sih A, Crowley PH, McPeek MA, Petranka JW, Strohmeier K (1985) Predation, competition and prey communities: a review of field experiments. Ann Rev Ecol Syst 16:269–311Google Scholar
  25. Stein RA (1977) Selective predation, optimal foraging, and predatory-prey interactions between fish and crayfish. Ecology 58:1237–1253Google Scholar
  26. Stein RA, Magnuson JJ (1976) Behavioral response of crayfish to a fish predator. Ecology 57:751–761Google Scholar
  27. Werner EE, Gilliam JF, Hall DJ, Mittelbach GG (1983) An experimental test of the effects of predation risk on habitat use in fish. Ecology 64:1540–1548Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • David L. McNeely
    • 1
  • Brenda N. Futrell
    • 1
  • Andrew Sih
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Biological and Environmental SciencesMorehead State UniversityMoreheadUSA
  2. 2.Behavioral and Evolutionary Ecology Research Group, T.H. Morgan School of Biological SciencesUniversity of KentuckyLexingtonUSA

Personalised recommendations