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The effect of largemouth bass Micropterus salmoides on aquatic macro-invertebrate communities in the Wit River, Eastern Cape, South Africa

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Fish predation is one of the driving forces of freshwater invertebrate community structures, with alien predators having a pronounced effect. A quantitative assessment of aquatic invertebrates in the Wit River, Sundays River catchment, Eastern Cape, South Africa, was undertaken to assess the impact of the alien fish Micropterus salmoides on their relative abundance and community structure. Communities in the stones-in-current and marginal vegetation biotopes were sampled in the presence and absence of M. salmoides in late summer (February-April) 2008. Results suggest that the presence of M. salmoides does have an impact on indigenous macroinvertebrate fauna and communities. Community structure in the stones-in-current biotopes did not differ significantly between sections of the river with or without fish. However, there was a significant difference in community structure in marginal vegetation between sections of river. In sections with M. salmoides several large or conspicuous taxa (Odonata, Hemiptera and Coleoptera) were significantly reduced (p < 0.05) or even absent, while cryptic/inconspicuous taxa (Trichoptera, Leptoceridae and Mollusca, Physidae) were significantly more abundant (p < 0.05).

Keywords: community structure; conspicuous taxa; invasive predators; predation

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Zoology and Entomology, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa 2: Department of Zoology and Entomology, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa,Department of Freshwater Invertebrates, Albany Museum, Grahamstown, South Africa 3: South African Institute of Aquatic Biodiversity, Grahamstown, South Africa

Publication date: December 1, 2010

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