Experimental assessment of predation by native and exotic fish on stream invertebrates in Northern Patagonia
GERAY, D.; ALBARIÑO, R. J.; MILANO, D.
Año: 2015 vol. 51 p. 24 - 31
During the last decades invasive species became a matter of concern all over the world. Established salmonid populations make sport fishery in Patagonia one of the top in the world, but there is increasing evidence that these populations have negative impacts on native ecosystems. Predation rates and feeding preferences of native catfish Hatcheria macraei and invasive trout Oncorhynchus mykiss were compared by exposing three stream benthic invertebrate species with contrasting ecological roles to direct predation. Secondly, feeding and escaping behaviours of the mayfly Meridialaris chiloeensis belonging to either non-naive or naive populations to predators were investigated in the presence of predation chemical cues, i.e. non direct predator access. Total predation by trout was 2-3 times higher than by native catfish. Trout had clear prey preferences while catfish changed its preferences with shifting prey composition. Invertebrate species showed different responses to predation by native and exotic fish due to the different strategies of fish and invertebrates which resulted from the combination of predator efficiency and prey vulnerability. Feeding activity of non-naive nymphs was significantly lower than that of naive nymphs. In addition, mayfly nymphs from both populations showed higher emigration rates in presence of trout chemical cues than in presence of catfish cues or in fishless treatment. Consequently, the reduced feeding activity observed in non-naive mayflies exposed to rainbow trout cues resulted from their inactivity in channels, as both nymph populations had similar emigration rates. Due to high predation rates, prey preferences (i.e. high potential to exploit prey resources) and induced strong predation avoidance behaviour of prey, invasive trout may have a stronger influence on the abundance and species composition of native macroinvertebrates than native catfish. In just about one century, invertebrate species such as the ubiquitous Meridialaris chiloeensis show behavioural adaptations to this exotic predator