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Keywords:

  • behaviour;
  • Cyprinus carpio;
  • fathead minnow;
  • foraging;
  • prey selection;
  • yellow perch

Abstract  Predation is an important force structuring aquatic communities, but predator–prey interactions are complex and regulated by multiple factors. Invasive fishes may interact with native fishes to alter predator–prey preferences and community dynamics. For example, common carp, Cyprinus carpio L., is an invasive species that can become abundant and negatively affect aquatic ecosystems. Juvenile common carp are occasionally found in predator diets, but predator preferences for common carp compared with alternative prey remains unknown. Prey selection and feeding behaviour of five piscivores (flathead catfish, Pylodictis olivaris (Rafinesque); largemouth bass, Micropterus salmoides (Lacepède); smallmouth bass, M. dolomieu Lacepède; walleye, Sander vitreus (Mitchill); and northern pike, Esox lucius L.) foraging on juvenile common carp and two alternative prey (fathead minnow, Pimephales promelas Rafinesque, and yellow perch, Perca flavescens Mitchill) at variable densities and habitats were evaluated. Common carp and fathead minnow were generally selected for or neutrally selected across predator species, habitat types and prey assemblages. By contrast, yellow perch was generally selected against. Common carp were easily captured but difficult to manipulate and ingest compared with other prey. These results reveal that common carp are vulnerable to a variety of predators, suggesting control of this detrimental invader may be possible through biomanipulation.