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Competition between Invasive Ruffe (Gymnocephalus cernua) and Native Yellow Perch (Perca flavescens) in Experimental Mesocosms

1
Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology, University of Minnesota, Saint Paul, MN 55108, USA
2
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Division of Fish and Wildlife, Albany, NY 12233-4753, USA
3
Center for Water and the Environment, Natural Resources Research Institute, 5013 Miller Trunk Highway, Duluth, MN 55811, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Fishes 2020, 5(4), 33; https://doi.org/10.3390/fishes5040033
Received: 7 September 2020 / Revised: 10 October 2020 / Accepted: 13 October 2020 / Published: 17 October 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biology and Control of Invasive Fishes)
Ruffe (Gymnocephalus cernua) were introduced to North America from Europe in the mid-1980s and based on similar diets and habit use may compete with yellow perch (Perca flavescens). To examine competitive interactions between invasive ruffe and native yellow perch, individually marked perch and ruffe were placed in mesocosms in a small lake. Mesocosms allowed fish to interact and feed on the natural prey populations enclosed. In the first experiment, four treatments were assessed: 28 perch, 14 perch + 14 ruffe, 14 perch, and 7 perch + 7 ruffe. Yellow perch growth was significantly lower in the presence of ruffe (ANOVA, p = 0.005) than in treatments containing only perch. In a second experiment, an increasing density of one species was superimposed upon a constant density of the other in parallel treatment series. Growth rates of both ruffe and perch declined when ruffe density was increased (t test, p = 0.006). However, neither ruffe nor perch growth was affected by increasing perch density. Total stomach content mass of perch was significantly decreased by ruffe in both years (p < 0.02), but no effects of ruffe on the composition of perch diets were observed. Ruffe growth and food consumption was greater than that of perch for both experiments. Ruffe can outcompete yellow perch when both species depend on a limited benthic food resource. Thus there is reason for concern for the ecological effects of ruffe if they expand their range into Lake Erie or North American inland lakes that contain yellow perch. View Full-Text
Keywords: interference competition; exploitative competition; invasive species; ruffe; yellow perch; growth; diet interference competition; exploitative competition; invasive species; ruffe; yellow perch; growth; diet
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Newman, R.M.; Henson, F.G.; Richards, C. Competition between Invasive Ruffe (Gymnocephalus cernua) and Native Yellow Perch (Perca flavescens) in Experimental Mesocosms. Fishes 2020, 5, 33.

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