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Assessing the effects of fish density, habitat complexity, and current velocity on interference competition between bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) and brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) in an artificial stream

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In this experiment, competition was observed among native bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus (Suckley, 1859)) and non-native brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis (Mitchill, 1814)) in artificial streams. In intraspecific competitions, brook trout engaged in territorial interference foraging strategies, and their foraging success was correlated with occupancy of the lead position in the stream. No correlation was apparent for bull trout, most of which engaged in nonterritorial scramble foraging tactics. In interspecific competitions, four stream environments were constructed in which fish density, habitat complexity, and current velocity were altered. Bull trout outcompeted brook trout for food in simple pool habitat devoid of cover when competition was head-to-head (density = 3 fish·m−2) between the species. When competitor number was doubled in this habitat, the two became equal competitors. At this higher density, bull trout again outcompeted brook trout for food when the habitat was changed to a complex riffle with substrate cover. Brook trout were more aggressive towards bull trout than vice versa, and interspecific aggression was decreased by low density, cover, and high stream velocity. Territorial brook trout aggressively interfere with their competitor for access to resources, but the success and intensity of this tactic against bull trout may be mitigated by environmental factors.

Keywords: Oncorhynchus; Salmo; behaviour; comportement; concurrence par exploitation; concurrence par interférence; cours d’eau laboratoire; espèce envahissante; exploitative competition; interference competition; invasive species; laboratory stream

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2013-01-01

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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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