ALBARIÑO Ricardo Javier
Altered mayfly distribution due to strong interactions with alien rainbow trout in Andean streams of Patagonia
ALBARIÑO, R.J.; BURIA, L.M.
Lugar: Berlin; Año: 2011 vol. 41 p. 220 - 220
Nesameletidae is a Southern Hemisphere ephemeropteran family with large-bodied nymphs that are swimming grazers, traits that make aquatic invertebrates vulnerable to visual predators. Metamonius anceps is the sole representative of this family in South America and its present known distribution along the Southern Andes is mostly restricted to headwater streams, usually with clear and well-oxygenated waters. We analyzed their spatial distribution in relation to the presence of the exotic predator rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), which is the only fish species in many small Andean Patagonia streams. We measured mayfly abundance in the benthos and drift in reaches with and without fish (the latter being reaches upstream of waterfalls that prevent trout access) in three catchments of Nahuel Huapi Lake basin at the Nahuel Huapi National Park, Argentina. We compared nymphal abundance and body size at the habitat scale and at the reach scale, and nymphal presence and body size in trout diet. A multivariate analysis of physical stream features showed that habitat/reaches with and without fish had similar abiotic characteristics. In no fish sites, nymph density ranged between 44 and 180 m-2 while in fish sites they were 0-3 m-2. In one stream nymphs drifted mainly during the day and ~400 indiv. day-1 were estimated to enter the site with fish. However no nymphs were collected drifting 200 m below the waterfall (the reach with fish). Observations on the diet of rainbow trout also supported the ongoing strong interaction between this mayfly and the trout. M. anceps is a highly vulnerable prey as no permanent populations were found in study reaches with the exotic predator established. Our study emphasizes the potential of natural physical barriers to stop invasive fish having access to headwaters allowing them to harbour natural populations of the most trout-susceptible species supporting pristine ecosystem conditions.