Seasonal trophic niche shift and cascading effect of a generalist predator fish

PloS One
Jun XuLars-Anders Hansson

Abstract

Few studies have examined how foraging niche shift of a predator over time cascade down to local prey communities. Here we examine patterns of temporal foraging niche shifts of a generalist predator (yellow catfish, Pelteobagrus fulvidraco) and the abundance of prey communities in a subtropical lake. We predicted that the nature of these interactions would have implications for patterns in diet shifts and growth of the predator. Our results show significant decreases in planktivory and benthivory from late spring to summer and autumn, whereas piscivory increased significantly from mid-summer until late autumn and also increased steadily with predator body length. The temporal dynamics in predator/prey ratios indicate that the predation pressure on zooplankton and zoobenthos decreased when the predation pressure on the prey fish and shrimps was high. Yellow catfish adjusted their foraging strategies to temporal changes in food availability, which is in agreement with optimal foraging theory. Meanwhile the decrease in planktivory and benthivory of yellow catfish enabled primary consumers, such as zooplankton and benthic invertebrates, to develop under low grazing pressure via trophic cascading effects in the local food web. Thus,...Continue Reading

References

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