Impact of indigenous egg eaters on the early survival of exotic smallmouth bass




Exotic species become invasive aliens when they have an adverse effect on the community of the recipient ecosystem, and their spread among closed water systems is of recent concern for the conservation of native biodiversity in Japan. Smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu Lacepède) is recognized as one of the worst 100 alien species, being undesirable because of its trophic level as a top predator. Smallmouth bass that have been illegally introduced into Lake Aoki, central Japan, in the 1990s for the purpose of sports fishing have seriously affected the lower trophic levels in the lake including fisheries resources, while a strong effort to remove them has proved to be limited in usefulness. We intended to identify indigenous agents that have a potential to control smallmouth bass in the lake. Snorkeling observations in the daytime revealed that Japanese dace (Tribolodon hakonensis Günther) intruded into smallmouth bass’ spawning nest as a school and were able to consume the eggs while the male bass was guarding the nest. Consequently, the proportion of lost eggs owing to the predation reached 92.4% per clutch on average, proving that native cyprinids are able to function as an efficient egg predator that reduces the survival of smallmouth bass. We consider that employing the indigenous egg predator can be a practical means to eradicate exotic smallmouth bass, combined with the removal of stones on the nest as a subsidiary step to expose smallmouth bass eggs to predation by Japanese dace.