Title: Dietary niche partitioning in a piscivorous fish guild in response to stocking of an additional competitor – The role of diet specialisation
Authors: SCHULZE TorstenBAADE UlrichHOELKER FranzDOERNER Hendrik
Citation: LIMNOLOGICA vol. 42 no. 1 p. 56– 64
Publication Year: 2012
JRC N°: JRC52516
ISSN: 0075-9511
URI: www.elsevier.de/limno
DOI: 10.1016/j.limno.2011.08.001
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: Species belonging to the same ecological guild can coexist only if there are differences in their responses to limiting resources. Thus, competitor introductions may modify the niches of the resident competitors, but empirical studies are rare. The extent of niche modification might further depend on the species’ trophic specialisation along the specialists-to-generalists axis. In this study, we performed a semi-natural experiment by introducing a trophically specialised piscivorous fish (pikeperch) to the resident predator guild of a trophic generalist (perch) and a trophic specialist (pike) in a temperate freshwater lake. Individual diet data were used to calculate total niche hypervolume and inter- and intraspecific dietary niche overlap to evaluate strength of competitive interactions before and after pikeperch introduction. In both pike and perch, there was a moderate niche compression in response to pikeperch stocking. Furthermore, whereas perch diet hypervolume did not overlap at all with that of pikeperch, the intersection of niche space between the two trophic specialists was highly asymmetrical in favour of pike due to its less specialised diet composition in comparison with pikeperch. The intraspecific dietary niche overlap between perch size classes reflected an enhanced partitioning, whereas that of pike size classes was found almost unchanged in response to pikeperch stocking. These empirical results corroborate that competitive interactions and the degree of specialisation may strongly shape the success of introductions of top-predators in freshwater ecosystems. The most specialised species may persist only if the competitors belong rather to the generalists along the specialisation continuum.
JRC Directorate:Space, Security and Migration

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