Competition and niche partitioning in a floodplain ecosystem: a cladoceran community squeezed between fish and invertebrate predation

  • Lindholm M
  • Hessen D
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Seasonal floodplains occasionally comprise highly productive zooplankton communities which are exposed to rapid shifts in predator regimes, also between vertebrate and invertebrate predators. We recorded the impact of two co-occurring zooplankton predators, the notonectid Anisops sardea and 0+ fish fry of Tilapia rendalli (max gape size 1 mm), on a cladoceran community dominated by Ceriodaphnia reticulata (0.25-0.78 mm), Daphnia laevis (0.6-1.8 mm) and Scaphoieberis kingi (0.27-0.8 mm). Both predators strongly reduced abundance of all prey species, yet with a striking size-selective effect for Daphnia prey only, where fish showed a strong preference for small individuals, while Anisops preferred large Daphnia individuals. This contrasts with the general view of size selection in invertebrate versus vertebrate predators, but is logically caused by the feeding mode of the notonectid, and the gape size limitation of the fish fry. The two predators also showed a dietary niche differentiation in terms of both prey selection and habitat choice. T. rendalli fed preferably on small species and size classes, whereas predation from A. sardea concentrated on large prey. Competitive interference was indicated when feeding on Ceriodaphnia, and niche partitioning when feeding on the two other species. The predatory pattern suggests long-lasting coexistence in the system.

Author-supplied keywords

  • anisops sardea
  • cladocera
  • interspecific competition
  • niche
  • tilapia rendalli

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  • Markus Lindholm

  • Dag Olav Hessen

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