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Predicting the contributions of novel marine prey resources from angling and anadromy to the diet of a freshwater apex predator.

Nolan, E. T., Gutmann Roberts, C. and Britton, J. R., 2019. Predicting the contributions of novel marine prey resources from angling and anadromy to the diet of a freshwater apex predator. Freshwater Biology, 64 (August), 1542-1554.

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DOI: 10.1111/fwb.13326

Abstract

1. Anadromous fishes can be important prey resources for piscivorous fauna in lowland rivers. Freshwater anglers exploiting large-bodied cypriniform fishes use high quantities of pelletized marine fishmeal baits that can contribute substantially to fish diets. This marine-derived energy pathway also potentially provides a marine prey resource for freshwater piscivores. However, large-bodied cypriniform fishes are often in a size refuge against predation due to their large sizes. 2. Stable isotope (δ15N and δ13C) analysis assessed how novel marine prey resources influenced the diet of a freshwater apex predator, Northern pike Esox lucius, in an impounded river basin (lower River Severn, Western England). Up to three groups of prey resources were present: anadromous European shad (Alosa spp.), cypriniform fishes with dietary specialisms based on marine fishmeal baits, and freshwater prey. The availability of these prey resources to E. lucius varied according to river connectivity and levels of angling exploitation in different river reaches. 3. Where the three prey groups were present, E. lucius were more enriched in δ13C values (range: -24.74 to -16.34 ‰) compared to river reaches where aspects of the marine prey groups were absent. (range: -28.30 to -21.47) In all reaches, δ13C increased as E. lucius length increased. In the reach where all prey groups were present, the isotopic niches of three E. lucius size classes were strongly partitioned; this was not apparent in reaches where the marine pathways were unavailable. 4. Stable isotope mixing models suggested that freshwater prey were the most important prey item, contributing between 42 and 96 % to the diet of individual E. lucius. However, where present, anadromous fishes and cypriniform fishes specialising on marine fishmeal baits were also important prey items, contributing substantially to the diet of larger E. lucius (length > 650 mm). The total dietary contributions of the marine resources varied considerably among the individual larger fish (22 to 58 % of total diet). 5. The presence of two marine resource pathways in a lowland river thus strongly influenced the diet of an apex predator, but with contributions being a function of their spatial availability, E. lucius body size and individual trophic specialisations. These results emphasise how the anthropogenic activities of river engineering and human subsidies can affect the trophic dynamics of apex predators.

Item Type:Article
ISSN:0046-5070
Uncontrolled Keywords:Esox lucius; individual specialisation; isotopic niche, marine derived nutrients; stable isotope analysis
Group:Faculty of Science & Technology
ID Code:32246
Deposited By: Unnamed user with email symplectic@symplectic
Deposited On:07 May 2019 08:39
Last Modified:11 Jun 2020 01:08

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