Effects of an odonate predator and habitat complexity on survival of the flagfishJordanella floridae
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Hydrologic variability affects the development of predator populations in freshwater marsh systems, with predatory fishes typically predominating in permanently inundated marshes and predatory insects predominating in ephemeral marshes. The ability of larger predatory fishes to control the abundance of small fishes is fairly well understood, whereas control of fish populations by predatory insects has not been well studied. To address this gap in our understanding of marsh food web dynamics, we exposed groups of flagfishJordanella floridae to larvae of the widely distributed dragonflyAnax junius. We also examined how habitat complexity affected the foraging efficiency ofA. junius larvae. Dragonfly larvae reduced survival of flagfish by 40% during a ten-day experiment. Survival rates did not differ between simple and complex habitats. These results suggest that predatory insects could play an important role in regulating populations of small fishes in marsh systems that lack larger predatory fishes. Further, unlike many predatory fishes, there does not seem to be a significant decrease in the foraging efficiency ofA. junius in complex habitats.
Key WordsJordanella floridae Anax junius Cyprinodontidae Aeshnidae predation habitat complexity
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