Effects of a non-native cichlid fish (African jewelfish, Hemichromis letourneuxi Sauvage 1880) on a simulated Everglades aquatic community
In an 8-month mesocosm experiment, we examined how a simulated Everglades aquatic community of small native fishes, snails, and shrimp changed with the addition of either a native predator (dollar sunfish Lepomis marginatus) or a non-native predator (African jewelfish Hemichromis letourneuxi) compared to a no-predator control. Two snail species (Planorbella duryi, Physella cubensis) and the shrimp (Palaemonetes paludosus) displayed the strongest predator-treatment effects, with significantly lower biomasses in tanks with Hemichromis. One small native fish (Heterandria formosa) was significantly less abundant in Hemichromis tanks, but there were no significant treatment effects for Gambusia holbrooki, Jordanella floridae, or Pomacea paludosa (applesnail). Overall, there were few treatment differences between native predator and no-predator control tanks. The results suggest that the potential of Hemichromis to affect basal food-web species that link primary producers with higher-level consumers in the aquatic food web, with unknown consequences for Florida waters.
KeywordsFlorida Everglades Hemichromis Invasive species Native fishes Palaemonetes Pomacea
This study was funded by the USGS Invasive Species Program and the USGS Southeast Ecological Science Center. M.E. Brown (USGS) provided technical assistance in the field and in the lab, for which we are grateful. S. Ruessler (USGS) was especially helpful in maintaining the mesocosm facility in good working order. J. Lopez graciously facilitated our collection of H. letourneuxi at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. F. Thompson (Florida Museum of Natural History) identified gastropod specimens. J. Trexler (Florida International University) and V. Engel (USGS) kindly provided comments on an earlier version of the manuscript. Comments from two anonymous journal reviewers lead to substantial improvements in the manuscript, and we are grateful for their input. Fishes were collected under State of Florida Scientific Collector’s Permit FNE-2011-15. Experiments were conducted under Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) USGS/SESC 2010-03. Any use of trade, product, or firm names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the US Government.
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