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Resource use by large catfishes in a reservoir: is there evidence for interactive segregation and innate differences?

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Blue catfish Ictalurus furcatus and channel catfish Ictalurus punctatus, two large‐bodied piscivore‐omnivores in Lake Texoma, Texas‐Oklahoma, U.S.A., showed very high overlap in food use, but substantial differences in use of habitat during the year. Both species primarily ate fishes, aquatic insects, vegetation and detritus, terrestrial insects, seeds and zooplankton, with overall overlap = 98%. Diet breadth indices were very similar (blue catfish=4.31, channel catfish = 4.53). Quantitative and qualitative feeding varied seasonally and food habits changed ontogenetically. Feeding intensity was greatest in winter and lowest in late summer. Aquatic insects were eaten more from May to October and fishes more in winter. At body sizes from 100 to 299 mm Ls , both species primarily ate aquatic insects, terrestrial insects, fishes or zooplankton, whereas the diets of individuals >300 mm Ls of both species were dominated by fishes. Overall, their overlap in distribution across major habitat types was only 58%, with blue catfish most abundant in deep water offshore, and channel catfish more common in shallow cove habitats. Blue catfish that did occur in coves were in the deeper parts of those habitats, essentially not occurring in the littoral zone. In lakes without blue catfish, channel catfish are widely dispersed in various habitats and it is suspected that displacement of channel catfish by blue catfish may influence habitat differences of the two species in Lake Texoma. Because the spatial separation of the species also reflects their typical interspecific differences in unimpounded drainages, however, the habitat differences observed in Lake Texoma probably also reflect evolved, historical differences in ecology of the two species.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Oklahoma Biological Station, HC 71 Box 205, Kingston, Oklahoma 73439, U.S.A.

Publication date: 2002-03-01

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