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Biological Invasions

, Volume 10, Issue 5, pp 641–648 | Cite as

Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra) diet and prey selection in Mediterranean streams invaded by centrarchid fishes

  • Francisco Blanco-Garrido
  • José PrendaEmail author
  • Marta Narvaez
Original Paper

Abstract

The diet of the Iberian otter (Lutra lutra) was determined by analysing 547 spraints collected at 28 sites within a wide area invaded by centrarchid fishes (pumpkinseed sunfish, Lepomis gibbosus and largemouth bass, Micropterus salmoides): the middle Guadiana basin (South-west Iberian Peninsula). Fish was the otters’ main prey, representing more than 60% of total individuals and more than 80% of total biomass. Otters preyed on most of the fish species captured in the field; however, the consumption of centrarchids was low compared to their abundance in the streams, and Jacobs’ index of preference showed a clear rejection of both species by the otter. Consumption of native fish genera (Squalius, Barbus and Chondrostoma) by otters increased in relation to their increase in the environment. In contrast, increasing numbers of L. gibbosus in the field was not reflected in otter consumption. The general decline of native freshwater fishes in Iberian rivers, the preferred prey of otters, together with the spread of exotic fish species (centrarchids and others) could put otter populations at risk.

Keywords

Otter Iberian freshwater fishes Predation Invasive species Mediterranean streams Guadiana basin Biological conservation 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We greatly acknowledge Miguel Clavero, Antonia Rebollo and Jerónimo Valle for field and lab assistance. Professor Peter B. Moyle provided very useful comments and suggestions on the edition of the manuscript. Dr. Drake and two anonymous referees made very valuable suggestions to early versions of the manuscript. This study was financially supported by the SECEM (Sociedad Española para la Conservación y Estudio de los Mamíferos) and the Spanish Government projects REN2002-03513/HID (Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología) and CGL2005-02699/HID (Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia).

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francisco Blanco-Garrido
    • 1
  • José Prenda
    • 1
    Email author
  • Marta Narvaez
    • 2
  1. 1.Departamento de Biología Ambiental y Salud PúblicaUniversidad de HuelvaHuelvaSpain
  2. 2.Departamento de Biología AplicadaEstación Biológica de Doñana (CSIC)SevillaSpain

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