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Resource partitioning and asymmetric competition between sympatric freshwater and Omono types of ninespine stickleback, Pungitius pungitius

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Abstract:

The freshwater and Omono types of ninespine stickleback, Pungitius pungitius (L., 1758), coexist in several ponds and a stream in the Omono River system, Japan. We tested the hypothesis that coexistence of the two types is accomplished by resource partitioning through interspecific competition. First, the stomach contents of the two types were compared between sympatric and allopatric populations: the stomach contents of the sympatric freshwater type consisted of almost all Copepoda, whereas those of the sympatric Omono type consisted of not only Copepoda, but also many large benthic invertebrates; the stomach contents of both allopatric types were similar, consisting of Copepoda and large benthic invertebrates. Second, behaviour related to resource use in a sympatric pond was observed in the nonbreeding season: the freshwater type showed little aggressive behaviour, but the Omono type had a high frequency of aggressive behaviour. These results indicate that the sympatric freshwater type does not hold a feeding territory and its food resource is almost all Copepoda, whereas the Omono type has a feeding territory and its food resources are various. This suggests that asymmetric interference competition causes a diet shift of the sympatric freshwater type, allowing the two types to coexist by their resource partitioning.

Les formes d’eau douce et d’Omono de l’épinoche à neuf épines, Pungitius pungitius (L., 1758), coexistent dans plusieurs étangs et dans un cours d’eau du bassin versant de l’Omono au Japon. Nous testons l’hypothèse selon laquelle la coexistence des deux formes s’explique par le partage des ressources par compétition interspécifique. Nous avons d’abord comparé les contenus stomacaux des deux formes dans les populations sympatriques et allopatriques: le contenu stomacal de la forme d’eau douce sympatrique comprend presque exclusivement des copépodes, alors celui de la forme d’Omono sympatrique comporte non seulement des copépodes, mais aussi des invertébrés benthiques de grande taille; les contenus stomacaux des deux formes en allopatrie sont semblables et comprennent des copépodes et de grands invertébrés benthiques. Ensuite, nous avons observé en dehors de la période de reproduction le comportement associé à l’utilisation des ressources dans un étang où les deux formes coexistent: la forme d’eau douce affiche peu de comportements agressifs, alors que la forme d’Omono a une forte fréquence de comportements agressifs. Nos résultats indiquent que la forme d’eau douce en sympatrie ne maintient pas de territoire d’alimentation et que les copépodes constituent presque l’ensemble de ses ressources alimentaires, alors que la forme d’Omono établit un territoire d’alimentation et ses ressources alimentaires sont variées. Cela laisse croire à une compétition asymétrique d’interférence qui cause un déplacement de régime alimentaire chez la forme d’eau douce lorsqu’elle est en sympatrie et qui permet aux deux formes de coexister à cause de leur partage des ressources.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2007-02-01

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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