Mosquitofish dominate amphibian and invertebrate community development in experimental wetlands

Authors


Correspondence author. E-mail: christopher.shulse@modot.mo.gov

Summary

  1. Restored and constructed habitats can play important conservation roles. Predators help shape communities in these habitats through complex interactions with prey, other predators and biotic and abiotic characteristics of the environment. However, introduced predators can have dramatic effects that may be difficult to predict.
  2. Using regression models, we compared influences of introduced invasive western mosquitofish Gambusia affinis to those of two naturally colonizing predators (crayfish and dragonflies), and vegetation, on three anuran species in experimentally constructed wetlands. Using analyses of covariance, we also examined influences of mosquitofish and vegetation on aquatic invertebrate communities.
  3. We found that mosquitofish reduced abundances of grey treefrogs Hyla versicolor and H. chrysoscelis and boreal chorus frog Pseudacris maculata, but had no significant influence on green frog Lithobates clamitans. Mosquitofish also reduced invertebrate abundance, but their effect on richness was less clear. Vegetation cover did not significantly increase most anuran or invertebrate abundances. However, vegetation increased invertebrate richness. After fish removal, invertebrate abundance increased. Fish removal may have facilitated chorus frog re-colonization into wetlands with low abundance of invertebrate predators.
  4. Our results indicate that mosquitofish are detrimental to wetland communities, and we recommend that managers avoid stocking mosquitofish. We also encourage temporary or drainable wetlands to prevent mosquitofish persistence if colonization occurs. Implementing these recommendations will improve the conservation potential of restored wetlands.

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