- 1) Center for Limnology and Department of Zoology, University of Wisconsin, 53706, Madison, WI, USA
One potentially important effect of interspecific competition in freshwater fish communities is to increase predation intensity from gape-limited piscivores by lowering growth rates of prey species. We investigated the operation and consequences of competition between central mudminnows (Umbra limi) and yearling yellow perch (Perca flavescens) in a system where size-limited predation on mudminnows by larger perch is a principle structuring mechanism. During laboratory experiments in which mudminnows foraged for patchily-presented food in the presence and absence of yearling perch, the food intake of mudminnows decreased at both the population and individual-fish levels when perch were present. Mudminnows were neither less active nor did they occupy lower-quality food patches in the presence of perch; exploitation competition, rather than interference or predator avoidance, appeared responsible for reduced feeding success. To assess effects of competition in the field, we examined size distributions and condition factors of yearling mudminnows and perch in small Wisconsin lakes having mudminnow-only and mudminnow-perch assemblages. Yearling mudminnows were smaller and in poorer condition in an assemblage composed (by mass) of 45% yearling perch than in two mudminnow-only assemblages. Conversely, yearling perch were larger and in better condition when the mudminnow-perch assemblage contained only 45% perch then when it contained 92% perch. Our experimental and field results indicated that an asymmetrical competitive relationship could contribute directly to the interspecific population dominance of perch over mudminnows in Umbra-Perca assemblages through reduced food intake, growth, and condition of mudminnows, and indirectly through increased vulnerability of mudminnows to size-limited predation.
- 1 - sciences appliquees, technologies et medecines
- 2 - sciences biologiques et medicales
- 3 - sciences biologiques fondamentales et appliquees. psychologie
- 4 - ecologie animale, vegetale et microbienne
- 1 - Life Sciences ; 2 - Agricultural and Biological Sciences ; 3 - Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics