, Volume 723, Issue 1, pp 131–144 | Cite as

Western mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis) bolster the prevalence and severity of tadpole tail injuries in experimental wetlands

  • Christopher D. Shulse
  • Raymond D. SemlitschEmail author


Species introduced outside their native range to serve anthropogenic purposes may have unintended consequences on native organisms. Mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis and Gambusia holbrooki) have been introduced throughout the world to control larval mosquito populations in aquatic environments, but they have also been implicated in the decline of native fish, amphibian, and aquatic invertebrate populations. We investigated the roles of introduced western mosquitofish (G. affinis), and two naturally colonizing predators (crayfish and dragonfly naiads) in inflicting tail injuries observed on ranid frog tadpoles in experimental constructed wetlands. We also examined the influence of vegetation in reducing tail injury severity. We found that mosquitofish significantly increased the prevalence and severity of tail injuries, but crayfish and dragonfly naiads contributed much less to increased injury levels. Furthermore, increased vegetation cover did not significantly attenuate tail injuries. However, after chemical removal of Gambusia, injury prevalence and severity was significantly reduced. Although previous investigations have concluded that mosquitofish prey upon the eggs and larvae of some amphibians, our results illustrate that these fish can cause substantial but apparently sub-lethal injuries to large numbers of larval amphibians in a wetland. Further investigations are needed to determine if these injuries impede the fitness of victims and lead to population reductions.


Amphibians Invasive fish Mosquitofish Tadpole Sub-lethal injury 



We thank the staff of the Missouri Department of Transportation, Missouri Department of Conservation, and University of Missouri Division of Biological Sciences. Thanks to S. Becker, K. Kettenbach, L. Rehard, D. Kuschel, A. Robertson, D. Lund, G. Schmitz for assistance in the field. We thank two anonymous reviewers who provided comments that greatly improved the manuscript. This project was funded by a United States Environmental Protection Agency Region VII Grant CD-98769101-0, a Missouri Department of Conservation Wildlife Diversity Fund Grant, and a Missouri Department of Transportation Research and Development Grant (RI 07-005). Organisms were captured under Missouri Department of Conservation Wildlife Collector’s Permits 14120 and 14533; and Animal Care and Use Protocol 4189.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Missouri Department of TransportationJefferson CityUSA
  2. 2.Division of Biological SciencesUniversity of MissouriColumbiaUSA

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