A shift in the habitat use pattern of a lentic galaxiid fish: an acute behavioural response to an introduced predator
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Stuart-Smith, RD and White, RWG and Barmuta, LA, A shift in the habitat use pattern of a lentic galaxiid fish: an acute behavioural response to an introduced predator, Environmental Biology of Fishes, 82, (1) pp. 93-100. ISSN 0378-1909 (2008) [Refereed Article]
Despite potentially reducing predation mortality, behavioural responses of native species to introduced predators may still have sub-lethal impacts. In video-recorded laboratory trials, we examined the effects of introduced brown trout, Salmo trutta, on the short-term behaviour of a threatened, lake-dwelling galaxiid fish and confirmed a suspected diel pattern in habitat use by this species. We found that Galaxias auratus followed a distinct diel pattern in the use of complex habitats and open water, which was significantly altered by the presence of brown trout. In trials without the introduced predator, G. auratus used complex habitats (rocks or macrophytes) during the day, and open water during the night. In trials with brown trout present, G. auratus spent significantly less time in open water and rarely ventured out of the macrophytes. However, when given the option of using only rocky substrate or open water, which is the more common situation in the lakes to which this galaxiid is endemic, the fish reduced the amount of time they spent in the open water during the night, but still spent more time in open water than when macrophytes were available. Spending the daylight hours amongst the cover of rocks or macrophytes is most likely an adaptation to reduce the risk of predation by visual predators, and the pattern of reduced use of open water habitats in the presence of brown trout is an acute response to the close proximity of the introduced predator. The difference in the nocturnal use of macrophytes and rocks when trout are present may be related to differences in feeding opportunities or success within these habitats. © 2007 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
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