Difference in the predation impact enhanced by morphological divergence between introduced fish populations


Current address: Gifu Prefectural Research Institute for Freshwater Fish and Aquatic Environments, Kasada, Kawashima, Kakamigahara, Gifu 501-6021, Japan. E-mail: yonekura-ryuji@pref.gifu.lg.jp


The strength of predation impact on recipient environments may vary among introduced populations due to their local adaptations to different prey. We examined whether functional diversification associated with morphological differences may be observed among the introduced populations of invasive bluegill sunfish Lepomis macrochirus (Perciformes, Centrarchidae) in Japan. The two examined populations are morphologically different, although they were recently derived from a common American source and colonized in different lakes. We performed a laboratory experiment wherein these populations were fed the benthic (chironomid larva) and the pelagic prey (daphnid zooplankton). The results revealed that a population colonizing in a shallower lake and foraging on benthic invertebrates in the wild had a greater impact on the benthic prey, whereas the other population colonizing in a deeper lake and foraging on crustacean zooplankton have consumed the pelagic prey more efficiently. A series of regression analyses showed that morphological differences among individuals were responsible for these population differences. The evidence obtained suggests that morphological adaptations by introduced bluegill populations enhance the strength of predation impact on a prey resource consumed in a relevant environment, but reduce the impact on the other prey. Thus, although the introduced Japanese populations were recently derived from a common ancestor, the predation impacts on the native prey community vary due to morphological adaptations to different prey. © 2007 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2007, 91, 601–610.