Ontogenetic variation in the diurnal food and habitat associations of an endemic and an exotic fish in floodplain ponds: consequences for niche partitioning

Rick J Stoffels, Paul Humphries

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In floodplain ponds with low piscivore abundance, both endemic Midgley's gudgeons, Hypseleotris sp. 5, and exotic mosquitofish, Gambusia holbrooki, showed significant ontogenetic variation in the use of food and space. Small gudgeons were generally associated with surface and benthic habitats, then restricted their distribution to benthic habitats at a size of approximately 24mm (standard length). The ontogenetic variation in mosquitofish habitat use was less discrete, and could be described as a tendency for larger individuals to be associated with the bottom of the littoral macrophyte beds than with the surface of the macrophyte beds or surface of the limnetic zone. Small gudgeons exhibited high spatial overlap with mosquitofish within the surface habitats of the ponds. All size-class/species comparisons showed significant partitioning of food resources, however, the diets of small gudgeons and mosquitofish were very similar. Therefore, juvenile gudgeons may have to pass through a similar spatial and trophic niche to introduced mosquitofish before recruiting to the adult stage. Possible mechanisms driving the ontogenetic variation in gudgeon and mosquitofish habitat use are discussed. This paper demonstrates that ontogenetic niche shifts at fine spatial scales can affect our interpretation of interactions between native and introduced fishes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-305
Number of pages13
JournalEnvironmental Biology of Fishes
Volume66
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2003

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