, Volume 34, Supplement 1, pp 159–173 | Cite as

Fish Community Responses to the Combined Effects of Decreased Hydroperiod and Nonnative Fish Invasions in a Karst Wetland: Are Everglades Solution Holes Sinks for Native Fishes?

  • J. S. Rehage
  • S. E. Liston
  • K. J. Dunker
  • W. F. Loftus
Hydrologic Restoration


Short-hydroperiod Everglades wetlands have been disproportionately affected by reductions in freshwater inflows, land conversion and biotic invasions. Severe hydroperiod reductions in these habitats, including the Rocky Glades, coupled with proximity to canals that act as sources of invasions, may limit their ability to support high levels of aquatic production. We examined whether karst solution holes function as dry-down refuges for fishes, providing a source of marsh colonists upon reflooding, by tracking fish abundance, nonnative composition, and survival in solution holes throughout the dry season. We paired field surveys with an in situ nonnative predation experiment that tested the effects of predation by the recent invader, African jewelfish (Hemichromis letourneuxi) on native fishes. Over the 3 years surveyed, a large number of the solution holes dried before the onset of the wet season, while those retaining water had low survivorship and were dominated by nonnatives. In the experiment, mortality of eastern mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki) in the presence of African jewelfish was greater than that associated with deteriorating water quality. Under current water management, findings suggest that solution holes are largely sinks for native fishes, given the high frequency of drydown, extensive period of fish residence, and predation by nonnative fishes.


Fishes Short hydroperiod wetlands Karst Invasive species Source-sink dynamics Refuges 



We greatly appreciate the field assistance of: R. Kobza, D. Padilla, X. Pagan, D. Riggs, H. Waddle, A. Martin, B. Shamblin, R. Urguelles, and P. George and personnel in J. Trexler’s lab. B. Dunker was invaluable in field work, trap construction, and sample processing. J. Kline (ENP) assisted as project representative for this study, and through discussions, fieldwork, and data sharing. D. Elswick and C. Fadeley (USGS) and J. Lorenz, J. Wolkowsky, and L. Canavan (Audubon Florida) helped immensely with budget and personnel needs. S. Howington (ENP) provided assistance as NPS Critical Ecosystem Studies Initiative coordinator and project administrator. B. Zepp assisted us with the ENP scientific permits. This publication was produced for a special issue devoted to investigating the ecological response of over 20 years of hydrologic restoration and active management in the Taylor Slough drainage of ENP. Support was provided by ENP (CESI IA F5284-04-0039), the Southeast Environmental Research Center, the Florida Coastal Everglades Long-Term Ecological Research program (National Science Foundation cooperative agreement #DBI-0620409), the Everglades Foundation, and the South Florida Water Management District.

Supplementary material

13157_2012_361_MOESM1_ESM.doc (99 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 99 kb)


  1. Boucek RE, Rehage JS (2012) No free lunch: Displaced marsh consumers regulate a prey subsidy to an estuarine consumer. Oikos, acceptedGoogle Scholar
  2. Bowen SH (1983) Quantitative description of the diet. In: Nielsen LA, Johnson DL (eds) Fisheries techniques. The American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, pp 325–336Google Scholar
  3. Cox JG, Lima SL (2006) Naivete´ and an aquatic-terrestrial dichotomy in the effects of introduced predators. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 21:674–680CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. DeAngelis DL, Loftus WF, Trexler JC, Ulanowicz RE (1997) Modeling fish dynamics and effects of stress in a hydrologically pulsed ecosystem. Journal of Aquatic Ecosystem Stress and Recovery 6:1–13CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. DeAngelis DL, Trexler JC, Loftus WF (2005) Life history trade-offs and community dynamics of small fishes in a seasonally pulsed wetland. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 62:781–790CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Dias PC (1996) Sources and sinks in population biology. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 11:326–330CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dupuch A, Paradis Y, Magnan P (2011) Behavioural responses of prey fishes to habitat complexity and predation risk induce bias in minnow trap catches. Journal of Fish Biology 79:533–539PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Frederick PC, Gawlik DE, Ogden JC, Cook MI, Lusk M (2009) The White Ibis and Wood Stork as indicators for restoration of the everglades ecosystem. Ecological Indicators 9:S83–S95CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gawlik DE (2002) The effects of prey availability on the numerical response of wading birds. Ecological Monographs 72:329–346CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hogg RG (1976) Established exotic cichlid fishes in Dade County, Florida. Florida Scientist 39:97–103Google Scholar
  11. Kiernan JD, Moyle PB, Crain PK (2012) Restoring native fish assemblages to a regulated California stream using the natural flow regime concept. Ecological Applications 22:1472–1482PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Kline JL, Loftus WF, Kotun K, Trexler JC, Rehage JS, Lorenz JJ, Robinson M (this issue) Recent fish introductions into Everglades National Park: an unforeseen consequence of water-management?Google Scholar
  13. Knapp RA, Matthews KR, Sarnelle O (2001) Resistance and resilience of alpine lake fauna to fish introductions. Ecological Monographs 71:401–421CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kobza RM, Trexler JC, Loftus WF, Perry SA (2004) Community structure of fishes inhabiting aquatic refuges in a threatened Karst wetland and its implications for ecosystem management. Biological Conservation 116:153–165CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kotun K, Renshaw A (this issue) Taylor Slough Hydrology, Fifty Years of Water Management 1961–2010. WetlandsGoogle Scholar
  16. Lauzanne L (1988) Les habitudes alimentaires des Poissons d’eau douce Africains. In: Levenque C, Bruton M, Ssentongo GW (eds) Biologie et Ecologie des Poissons d’Eau Douce Africains, pp. 221–242Google Scholar
  17. Leighton AP, Horrocks JA, Krueger BH, Beggs JA, Kramer DL (2008) Predicting species interactions from edge responses: mongoose predation on hawksbill sea turtle nests in fragmented beach habitat. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 275:2465–2472CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Loftus WF (2000) Accumulation and fate of mercury in an Everglades aquatic food web. Florida International University PhD Dissertation, Miami, FLGoogle Scholar
  19. Loftus WF, Kushlan JA (1987) The freshwater fishes of southern Florida. Bulletin of the Florida State Museum of Biological Sciences 31:147–344Google Scholar
  20. Loftus WF, Johnson RA, Anderson GH (1992) Ecological impacts of the reduction of groundwater levels in short-hydroperiod marshes of the Everglades. In: Stanford JA, Simons JJ (eds) United States environmental protection agency. Washington, D.C., pp 199–208Google Scholar
  21. Lowe-McConnell RH (1987) Ecological studies in tropical fish communities. Cambridge University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  22. McVoy CW, Said WP, Obeysekera J, VanArman J, Dreschel T (2011) Landscapes and hydrology of the predrainage Everglades. University Press of Florida, GainesvilleGoogle Scholar
  23. Nordby JC, Cohen AN, Beissinger SR (2009) Effects of a habitat-altering invader on nesting sparrows: an ecological trap? Biological Invasions 11:565–575CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Obaza A, DeAngelis DL, Trexler JC (2011) Using data from encounter sampler to model fish dispersal. Journal of Fish Biology 78:495–513PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Parkos JJ III, Ruetz CR III, Trexler JC (2011) Disturbance regime and limits on benefits of refuge use for fishes in a fluctuating hydroscape. Oikos 120:1519–1530CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Poff NL, Zimmerman JKH (2010) Ecological responses to altered flow regimes: a literature review to inform environmental flows science and management. Freshwater Biology 55:194–205CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Porter-Whitaker A, Rehage JS, Liston SE, Loftus WF (2012) Multiple predator effects and native prey responses to two nonnative Everglades fishes. Ecology of Freshwater Fish 21:375–385CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Propst DL, Gido KB (2004) Responses of native and nonnative fishes to natural flow regime mimicry in the San Juan River. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 133:922–931CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Pulliam HR (1998) Sources, sinks, and population regulation. American Naturalist 132:652–661CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Rehage JS, Loftus WF (2007) Seasonal fish community variation in headwater mangrove creeks in the southwestern Everglades: an examination of their role as dry-down refuges. Bulletin of Marine Science 80:625–645Google Scholar
  31. Rehage JS, Trexler JC (2006) Assessing the net effect of anthropogenic disturbance on aquatic communities in wetlands: community structure relative to distance from canals. Hydrobiologia 569:359–373CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Rehage JS, Dunlop KL, Loftus WF (2009) Antipredator responses by native mosquitofish to non-native cichlids: an examination of the role of prey naivete. Ethology 115:1046–1056CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Relyea RA (2006) The effects of pesticides, pH and predatory stress in amphibians under mesocosm conditions. Ecotoxicology 15:503–511PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Robertson BA, Hutto RL (2006) A framework for understanding ecological traps and an evaluation of existing evidence. Ecology 87:1075–1085PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Rozas LP, Minello TJ (1997) Estimating densities of small fishes and decapod crustaceans in shallow estuarine habitats: a review of sampling design with focus on gear selection. Estuaries 20:199–213CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Schlaepfer MA, Runge MC, Sherman PW (2002) Ecological and evolutionary traps. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 17:474–480CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Schlaepfer MA, Sherman PW, Blossey B, Runge MC (2005) Introduced species as evolutionary traps. Ecology Letters 8:241–246CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Schmitter-Soto JJ, Comın FA, Escobar-Briones E, Herrera-Silveira J, Alcocer J, Suarez-Morales E, Elıas-Gutierrez M, Dıaz-Arce M, Marın LE, Steinich B (2002) Hydrogeochemical and biological characteristics of cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula (SE Mexico). Hydrobiologia 467:215–228CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Schofield PJ, Loftus WF, Brown ME (2007) Hypoxia tolerance of two centrarchid sunfishes and an introduced cichlid from karstic Everglades wetlands of southern Florida, U.S.A. Journal of Fish Biology 71:87–99CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Schofield PJ, Loftus WF, Kobza M, Cook MI, Slone DH (2009) Tolerance of nonindigenous cichlid fishes (Cichlasoma urophthalmus, Hemichromis letourneuxi) to low temperature: laboratory and field experiments in south Florida. Biological Invasions 12:2441–2457CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Sih A, Bolnick DI, Luttbeg I, Orrock JL, Peacor SD, Pintor LM, Preisser E, Rehage JS, Vonesh JR (2010) Predator–prey naivete, antipredator behavior, and the ecology of predator invasions. Oikos 119:610–621CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Sih A, Ferrari MCO, Harris DJ (2011) Evolution and behavioural responses to human-induced rapid environmental change. Evolutionary Applications 4:367–387PubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Trexler JC, Loftus WF, Jordan F, Lorenz J, Chick JH, Kobza RM (2000) Empirical assessment of fish introductions in a subtropical wetland: an evaluation of contrasting views. Biological Invasions 2:265–277CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Trexler JC, Loftus WF, Perry SA (2005) Disturbance frequency and community structure in a twenty-five year intervention study. Oecologia 145:140–152PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Winemiller KO (1989) Ontogenetic diet shifts and resource partitioning among piscivorous fishes in the Venezuelan llanos. Environmental Biology of Fishes 26:177–199CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Winemiller KO, Jepsen DB (1998) Effects of seasonality and fish movement on tropical river food webs. Journal of Fish Biology 53:267–296CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Society of Wetland Scientists 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. S. Rehage
    • 1
  • S. E. Liston
    • 2
  • K. J. Dunker
    • 3
  • W. F. Loftus
    • 4
  1. 1.Earth & Environment, Southeast Environmental Research CenterFlorida International UniversityMiamiUSA
  2. 2.Audubon FloridaCorkscrew Swamp SanctuaryNaplesUSA
  3. 3.Alaska Department of Fish and GameAnchorageUSA
  4. 4.Aquatic Research & CommunicationLLCVero BeachUSA

Personalised recommendations