Predator-prey: interactions between the spiny waterflea (Bythotrephes longimanus) and pumpkinseed sunfish (Lepomis gibbosus)
Date of Award
Master of Science in Biological Sciences (MS)
College, School or Department Name
Department of Biological Sciences
Charles W Kerfoot
Small pumpkinseed sunfish ( Lepomis gibbosus), were found to be capable of removing the spine of Bythotrephes longimanus, an invasive cladoceran. Because fish consumption may be important in the dispersal or control of Bythotrephes, aquarium feeding experiments were conducted to 1) establish if the spine removal behavior of the pumpkinseeds was locally unique; 2) quantify how frequently pumpkinseeds exhibit the behavior; 3) determine if pumpkinseed handle Bythotrephes more quickly than other species of fish; and 4) verify if Bythotrephes' resting eggs pass through the digestive systems of pumpkinseeds in viable condition. The experiments revealed that pumpkinseeds (45-70 mm TL) from two geographic regions were more successful (100%) at removing Bythotrephes' spine, and handled Bythotrephes more quickly than yellow perch (Perca flavescens) (49-57 mm TL) and smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu) (50-57mm TL) used in the study. Of 244 live Bythotrephes' resting eggs fed to the pumpkinseeds, 104 (42.6%) passed through their digestive systems. From those eggs, only 10 successfully hatched. Preliminary enclosure experiments were carried out and indicated that pumpkinseeds will consume Bythotrephes in natural settings. These findings provide new evidence that certain fish, with specialized morphology for prey manipulation, have the ability to influence the distribution and establishment of Bythotrephes.
LeDuc, Jaime F., "Predator-prey: interactions between the spiny waterflea (Bythotrephes longimanus) and pumpkinseed sunfish (Lepomis gibbosus)", Master's Thesis, Michigan Technological University, 2012.