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Patch based predation in a southern Appalachian streamAuthor(s): C.A. Gibson; R.E. Ratajezak; G.D. Grossman
Source: OIKOS 106: 158-166
Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication
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DescriptionStreams are characterized by high degrees of patchiness that could influence the role of predators in these systems. Here we assess the impact of predatory benthic fishes on benthic macroinvertebrate density, biomass, and community structure at the patch scale in a fourth order stream in the southern Appalachians. We tested the role of predation in two different patch types: patches inhabited by adult mottled sculpin (Cottus bairdi) and random patches. We placed 30 basket pairs (one open to fish predation, and one from which lish predators were excluded) in the streambed at each patch type. We also tested for potential basket effects by setting up a basket control area. Although there was some evidence of basket artifacts on macroinvertebrate density in sculpin patches, these artifacts were not consistent and we do not feel that they affected our results because predators did not affect macroinvertebrate density. In random patches, predation did not significantly affect macroinvertebrate density or biomass. Predators significantly reduced macroinvertebrate biomass in sculpin patches but did not affect prey density. When the data-set was size-limited to exclude macroinvertebrates too large for consumption by sculpin, macroinvertebrate biomass did not differ significantly between exclusion and open baskets. This suggests that sculpin can reduce macroinvertebrate biomass through a combination of consumption and by predator-induced emigration of large macroinvertebrates into areas that are protected from sculpin. In addition, invertebrate predator biomass was higher in predator exclusion baskets in sculpin patches indicating that predation pressure remained high in the exclusion baskets despite fish exclusion. These results illustrate the heterogeneity of streams and the effect of small-scale differences (e.g. location of predators' territories) on local processes. Experiments that utilize these differences can provide insights into these stream processes.
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CitationGibson, C.A.; Ratajezak, R.E.; Grossman, G.D. 2004. Patch based predation in a southern Appalachian stream. OIKOS 106: 158-166
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