Waves affect predator–prey interactions between fish and benthic invertebrates
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Little is known about the effects of waves on predator–prey interactions in the littoral zones of freshwaters. We conducted a set of mesocosm experiments to study the differential effects of ship- and wind-induced waves on the foraging success of littoral fish on benthic invertebrates. Experiments were conducted in a wave tank with amphipods (Gammarus roeseli) as prey, and age-0 bream (Abramis brama, B0), age-0 and age-1 dace (Leuciscus leuciscus, D0 and D1) as predators. The number of gammarids suspended in the water column was higher in the wave treatments compared to a no-wave control treatment, especially during pulse waves mimicking ship-induced waves in comparison to continuous waves mimicking wind-induced waves. The resulting higher prey accessibility in the water column was differently exploited by the three types of predatory fish. D0 and D1 showed significantly higher foraging success in the pulse wave treatment than in the continuous and control treatments. The foraging success of D0 appears to be achieved more easily, since significantly higher swimming activity and more foraging attempts were recorded only for D1 under the wave treatments. In contrast, B0 consumed significantly fewer gammarids in both wave treatments than in the control. Hence, waves influenced predator–prey interactions differently depending on wave type and fish type. It is expected that regular exposure to ship-induced waves can alter littoral invertebrate and fish assemblages by increasing the predation risk for benthic invertebrates that are suspended in the water column, and by shifting fish community compositions towards species that benefit from waves.
KeywordsShip- and wind-induced waves Hydrodynamic disturbance Invertebrate detachment Foraging success
We thank M. Wolf for his technical support and T. Hintze for his assistance with video equipment. The manuscript benefited from the comments of K. Tockner, T. Mehner, C. Wolter, M. Brauns and two anonymous reviewers. This study was completed within the Collaborative Research Centre 454, “Littoral Zone of Lake Constance”, and was financed by the German Research Foundation (DFG), the German Federal Environmental Foundation (F. Gabel) and the German National Academic Foundation (S. Stoll).
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