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Keywords:

  • alien species;
  • native species;
  • predation;
  • South America;
  • stable isotope

Abstract

Trophic relations among introduced species may induce highly variable and complex effects in communities and ecosystems. However, studies that identify the potential impacts for invaded systems and illuminate mechanisms of coexistence with native species are scarce. Here, we examined trophic relations between two introduced fishes in streams of NW Patagonia, rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) and brown trout (Salmo trutta). These species originate from different regions of the Northern Hemisphere but they now coexist as invading species over the world. We used gastric contents and stable isotopes analysis to compare the diets of two size-classes of these two invaders in three localities of southern Chile. Both species displayed similar ontogenic diet shifts with smaller trout consuming mostly invertebrates and larger trout being more piscivorous and epibenthic feeders. However, piscivory was more prevalent in brown trout than in rainbow trout and highest at the site with the greatest density of native fishes suggesting that the availability of native fishes as trout prey may limit the occurrence of trout piscivory. We found an elevated dietary overlap between the two trout species at larger sizes while at smaller size a higher intraspecific dietary overlap occurred suggesting a potential interference competition among the two fish invaders especially at larger sizes. Our results highlight that the impacts of invading species on non-native fishes are context specific (i.e. species and ontogenic stages) and thus, difficult to generalize.