Water turbidity increases biotic resistance of native Neotropical piscivores to alien fish
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Large tropical rivers are increasingly affected by dam construction, which generally implies alteration of flow regimes, increased water transparency, decline of native species and proliferation of invasive alien species. The potential of native Neotropical piscivores to provide biotic resistance to alien fish invaders and its interaction with water turbidity was investigated through mesocosm experiments. Three invasive and two native fish species were offered as prey to three native piscivores of the Paraná river in 1000 L tanks. After 48 h, prey survival was compared among trials with and without the piscivores and in turbid (~ more preserved systems) versus clear water (~ disturbed systems by damming) treatments. Prey survival, particularly of the invasive species, was significantly lower in turbid water in the presence of predators (~ 45.9% versus ~ 53.7% in clear water). Piscivores preyed more on smaller individuals in clear water and on larger preys in turbid water. Although vulnerability to predation was prey-specific, our results support the potential of native piscivores to provide biotic resistance against alien freshwater species. Water turbidity mediated the predator–prey interactions and our results confirm the hypothesis that decreased turbidity caused by dams’ construction can affect predation efficiency of native piscivores and increase the abundance of alien fish.
KeywordsImpoundment Predator–prey interactions Water transparency Fish management Invasive species
This work was funded by CNPq, Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico, Brazil (graduate grant to A.F.G.N. Santos, code 142572/2004-7 and code 210199/2006-7; Edital Universal, code 478541/2004-0) and Programme Alßan of the European Union (Programme of High Level Scholarships for Latin America, grant to L.N. Santos). Further financial support was provided by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (projects CGL2015-69311-REDT and CGL2016-80820-R), the Government of Catalonia (ref. 2014 SGR 484), the European Commission (COST Action TD1209), Fundação Carlos Chagas Filho de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (research grant to LNS, E-112.644/2012, E-26/202.840/2015), Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) (research grant to LNS, ref. 312194/2015-3) and particularly CAPES (PVE-visiting professorship to EGB, ref. 88881.068352/2014-01). We especially thank Dr. A.A. Agostinho, Dr. A. Bialetzki and Dr. H.F. Júlio Jr, from Núcleo de Pesquisas em Limnologia, Ictiologia e Aquicultura (Nupelia, UEM, Brazil), for providing the infrastructure for the laboratory experiments. We thank the two anonymous reviewers and the Associate Editor in Chief S. M. Thomaz whose suggestions deeply improved the manuscript quality.
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