The effects of fish on assemblages of amphibians in ponds: a field experiment

Authors

  • G. R. Smith,

    1. Department of Biology, Earlham College, Richmond, IN 47374 U.S.A.,
    2. W. K. Kellogg Biological Station and Department of Zoology, Michigan State University, Hickory Corners, MI 49060 U.S.A.
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  • J. E. Rettig,

    1. W. K. Kellogg Biological Station and Department of Zoology, Michigan State University, Hickory Corners, MI 49060 U.S.A.
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  • G. G. Mittelbach,

    Corresponding author
      G.R. Smith, Department of Biology, William Jewell College, Liberty, MO 64068 U.S.A.§Present address: Department of Zoology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611 U.S.A.E-mail: smithg@william.jewell.edu§Present address: Department of Zoology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611 U.S.A.
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  • J. L. Valiulis,

    1. Department of Biology, Earlham College, Richmond, IN 47374 U.S.A.,
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  • S. R. Schaack

    1. Department of Biology, Earlham College, Richmond, IN 47374 U.S.A.,
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G.R. Smith, Department of Biology, William Jewell College, Liberty, MO 64068 U.S.A.§Present address: Department of Zoology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611 U.S.A.E-mail: smithg@william.jewell.edu§Present address: Department of Zoology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611 U.S.A.

Abstract

1. Bluegill sunfish (Lepomis macrochirus) dominate fish assemblages of small lakes and ponds throughout the eastern United States and may play a major role in structuring aquatic communities. We examined the impact of adult bluegill on amphibian density by stocking bluegill at a range of densities into partitions of an experimental pond in which amphibians were free to colonize.

2. Adult bluegill had a major impact on the amphibian assemblage. By the end of the experiment, gray treefrog (Hyla versicolor) tadpoles were nine times less abundant, and red-spotted newt (Notophthalmus viridescens) adults were three times less abundant in the presence of adult bluegill than in their absence. In contrast, bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana) tadpoles tended to increase in the presence of adult bluegill. Adult bluegill also had a negative effect on the abundance of predaceous aquatic insects.

3. There was no indication that interactions among amphibians were significant in determining the above patterns. We suggest that the strong impact of adult bluegill resulted from a combination of direct and indirect effects on amphibian larvae and predaceous aquatic insects.

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