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Keywords:

  • aquatic invasions;
  • introduced species;
  • trophic plasticity

Abstract

This study describes experimental herbivory and detritivory of three common native aquatic macrophyte species by the introduced Mozambique tilapia Oreochromis mossambicus (Peters) (Pisces: Cichlidae), and its physiological response to their consumption. There was a highly significant effect of fish herbivory on plant weight for each of the macrophyte species, but this effect was not influenced by any preference for periphyton. Despite the herbivory, there was a highly significant loss of fish body weight across all plant species and weight could only be maintained by supplementary feeding of a high protein fish flake. These results suggest that despite eating these plants, an alternative food resource may be needed for survival and may trigger trophic plasticity in O. mossambicus.