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Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 99, Issue 2–3, pp 187–193 | Cite as

Invasive predator influences habitat preferences in a freshwater fish

  • W. SowersbyEmail author
  • R. M. Thompson
  • B. B. M. Wong
Article

Abstract

Invasive species are an important contributor to global biodiversity loss. This is particularly true in freshwater ecosystems, where introduced species have contributed to native fish extinctions, altered native fish communities and modified aquatic ecosystem structure and function. Native species can potentially mitigate the impact of invasive predators and competitors by altering their behaviour, for example by reducing activity such as foraging or by increasing their use of shelter. This study investigated interactions between an introduced salmonid, the rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), and a native fish, the riffle galaxiid (Galaxias arcanus), that currently co-inhabit streams in parts of south-eastern Australia. We used three separate sets of behavioural experiments to test whether riffle galaxiids avoided trout under different substrate conditions. We hypothesised that habitat selection in the presence of a predator could be an important factor in facilitating galaxiid and trout co-existence. We found that interactions between the two fish differed depending on substrate. Galaxiids avoided trout when only sand substrate was available, but did not avoid trout when cobble substrate was available. The complex structure of cobbles may afford riffle galaxiids protection from trout, thereby facilitating their current existence in trout-inhabited streams.

Keywords

Galaxiid Habitat selection Introduced species Predator-prey interactions Salmonid 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank T. Raadik for his advice on the mountain galaxiid species complex, and to J. Douglas, D. Decanini, A. Svensson and B. Waincymer for their assistance in the field. This research project was partially sponsored by a Monash University Early Career Research Grant and the Australian Research Council. Collection and experimental procedures were approved by the Animal Ethics Committee of Monash University, Australia.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. Sowersby
    • 1
    Email author
  • R. M. Thompson
    • 1
    • 2
  • B. B. M. Wong
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Biological SciencesMonash UniversityClaytonAustralia
  2. 2.Institute for Applied EcologyUniversity of CanberraCanberraAustralia

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