Predator-prey interactions between brown trout Salmo trutta and native and introduced amphipods; their implications for fish diets

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Abstract

An attempt to improve the food base for brown trout Salmo trutta in Northern Ireland was made in 1958.59 by deliberately introducing English Gammarus pulex into several Irish rivers. In addition. another amphipod Crangonyx pseudogracilis, was later accidently introduced into II ish waters. Our study represents the first attempt to examine the trophic interactions between a native fish predator (S. trutta) and an array of these native (Gammarus duebeni celticus) and introduced (G. pulex and C. pseudogracilis) amphipods. Feeding experiments, involving young brown trout predators and ampiphod prey, revealed that the fish actively selected C. pseudogracilis relative to two alternative Gammarus prey species. Although the trout encountered the Gammarus species more than C. pseudogracilis, they were eaten less than Crangonyx. Difficulties in handling and ingestion of Gammarus by trout may be a. key component of the preference fbr the smaller, more easily handled Crangonyx. The microdistribution of the species was altered by the fish, due to predation being greater in particular microhabitats, Our study showed that the introduction of the herbivorous C. pseudogracilis into Irish freshwaters may represent a useful addition to fish diets. particularly for small and/or juvenile fish. The reprecussions of the deliberate introduction of G. pulex are less clear. It may improve feeding for fish. but only if it can coexist with indigenous macroinvertebrates and thus ultimately improve the range and quantity of possible food items in predator diets. Alternatively, being highly predatory towards other macroinvertebrates including G. d. celticus and C. pseudogracilis. G. pulex may be deleterious to the diversity of the resident benthic community and hence reduce the diversity of prey available to fish predators.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)686-696
Number of pages11
JournalEcography
Volume22
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology

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