Investigational piscivory of some juvenile Australian freshwater fishes by the introduced Mozambique tilapia Oreochromis mossambicus


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Experimental tanks were used to observe predatory effects in three different size classes of Mozambique tilapia Oreochromis mossambicus (one of the world's most widespread exotic species and generally regarded to be a herbivore or both herbivore and detritivore) when tested against 10 juvenile Australian freshwater fish species, and significant levels of predation against all were recorded. There was a general trend for larger O. mossambicus to kill more prey and this was also reflected in a separate series of experiments using juvenile barramundi Lates calcarifer over a range of size classes. Predatory effects by O. mossambicus broadly reflected the accepted models of predator–prey interactions, being that mortality (and survival) was closely related to relative body size and mouth gape limitation. Experimental evidence for piscivory in O. mossambicus was supported by field sampling that detected prey fish remains in 16% of all fish surveyed (n = 176). The recognition of active piscivory by O. mossambicus in laboratory and field situations is the first such evidence, and suggests a need to re-evaluate the nature of their effects in introduced environments.