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Dietary overlap among native and non-native fish in Patagonian low-order streams

Dietary overlap among native and non-native fish in Patagonian low-order streams

Annales de Limnologie - International Journal of Limnology 48(1): 21-30

DOI: 10.1051/limn/2011055

The diet composition and feeding strategy of native and exotic fish species were studied from May 25 to February 26 in three Patagonian low-order streams. A total of 464 fish were caught, which belonged to the exotic species Oncorhynchus mykiss (27), Salmo trutta (177) and the native species Hatcheria macraei (17). The analysis of 336 stomach contents indicated that at the individual level, the three species had a generalized feeding strategy based on benthic invertebrates (Plecoptera, Trichoptera, Coleoptera and Diptera). In the three streams, the widest population niches were observed in winter. There was, however, also a slight tendency toward an increased between-phenotype contribution to the niche width in same season, indicating that a small proportion of individuals within the fish populations specialized by predominantly feeding on a few specific prey species. Hence, the wide population niche widths observed throughout the year were partly a result of mixed individual feeding strategies within the populations. The higher diet overlaps were registered between exotics O. mykiss–S. trutta at Glyn and Carbón, and O. mykiss and the native H. macraei at Manguera, but it changed markedly through the year, perhaps depending on temporal changes in food availability suggesting a competitive coexistence of these species. This is mainly related to the fact that both species changed their food preferences in spring and foraged almost exclusively on Aubertoperla illiesi. This implies that in order to reduce the predation risk or the inter-specific competition for food, the fish species might partition the feeding habitats.

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