Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences
RESEARCH ARTICLE

When habitat complexity increases predation risk: experiments with invasive and neotropical native fishes

Alejandra F. G. N. Santos A E , Emili García-Berthou B , Carmino Hayashi C and Luciano N. Santos D
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Department of Zootechny and Sustainable Socioenvironmental Development, Fluminense Federal University, Niterói, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

B Institute of Aquatic Ecology, University of Girona, E-17071, Girona, Catalonia, Spain.

C Universidade Federal do Triângulo Mineiro, Uberaba, Minas Gerais, Brazil.

D Department of Ecology and Marine Resources, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro State, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

E Corresponding author. Email: alejandrafilippo@hotmail.com

Marine and Freshwater Research 64(8) 752-760 https://doi.org/10.1071/MF12264
Submitted: 19 September 2012  Accepted: 12 March 2013   Published: 5 July 2013

Abstract

We tested the predator–prey relationships between a native piscivore (Salminus brasiliensis) and introduced and native fish species of the Paraná River, Brazil. We hypothesised that S. brasiliensis can exert biotic resistance against invasive fishes but not at the same degree for all species. Three invasive (Cichla piquiti, Oreochromis niloticus and Ictalurus punctatus) and two native (Astyanax altiparanae and Prochilodus lineatus) species were offered as prey to S. brasiliensis in 300 L aquaria trials at three levels of cover (0%, 50% and 100% of artificial macrophytes). S. brasiliensis had a greater ability to capture prey in complex habitats, so predation success did not decrease with habitat complexity and even increased on I. punctatus. Prey survival was variable through time and among species, being high for I. punctatus. The three most consumed species (P. lineatus, C. piquiti, and O. niloticus) were less active and occupied the aquaria surfaces, changing strongly their behaviour with habitat complexity. Except for P. lineatus and C. piquiti, S. brasiliensis preferably preyed on smaller individuals of the other species. Our experiments support that S. brasiliensis is an interesting candidate to resist the invasion by C. piquiti and O. niloticus but not to control the abundance of I. punctatus.

Additional keywords: biotic resistance, invasive species, Paraná River basin, predator–prey interactions, Salminus brasiliensis.


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