Freshwater floodplain habitats buffer native food webs from negative effects of nonnative centrarchids and bullfrogs
amphibian, bullfrog, Centrarchidae, fish, floodplain, food web, invasive species, stable isotopes, wetland
Species introductions are common in freshwater environments and have the potential to transform community and ecosystem structure. Predatory centrarchid fishes and American Bullfrogs (Lithobates catesbeianus Shaw, 1802 previously Rana catesbeiana) are both widespread aquatic invaders implicated in native amphibian declines. In lowland ecosystems, co-occurrence between native and nonnative amphibian and fish taxa is common; however, the mechanisms that facilitate their co-occurrence are poorly studied. Stable isotope analysis offers a tool to examine trophic interactions among native and nonnative taxa, including predation, competition, and shifting food resource availability, which may provide mechanistic insight into the drivers of co-occurrence. In this study, we used stable isotopes (δ13C and δ15N) to determine how the trophic structure of native fishes and amphibians differs between waterbodies with and without nonnative centrarchid fishes and bullfrogs across a floodplain in southwestern Washington, USA. We hypothesized that native species alter their feeding strategies to reduce niche overlap with nonnative taxa. In the presence of nonnative taxa, Three-spine Stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus Linnaeus, 1758), all native larval salamander species (Ambystoma gracile Baird, 1859 and Ambystoma macrodactylum Baird, 1850), and 1 of 2 native larval frog species (Rana aurora Baird and Girard, 1852) exhibited shifts in food resources or trophic position. Despite trophic differences, only 1 species (A. macrodactylum) had a smaller niche size in the presence of nonnatives. The observed trophic shifts reflect changes in habitat or food resources, which may reduce competition or predation and promote co-occurrence between nonnative and native taxa. Our results suggest that the co-occurrence of native and nonnative amphibians and fishes in lowland floodplain habitats may be facilitated by a broad range of food resources and complex habitat structure.
Freshwater floodplain habitats buffer native food webs from negative effects of nonnative centrarchids and bullfrogs Meredith A. Holgerson, Martha Barnard, Byunghyun Ahn, Marc P. Hayes, and Angela L. Strecker Freshwater Science 2022 41:2, 327-341
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