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Community Ecology Natural enemies -- Predators

1. How do predatory invertebrates impact their prey populations? 2. Is Bythotrephes a typical invertebrate predator?

3. Can bluegill influence the growth rate of bass?

Predators in Lakes
: bluegill.html

Invertebrates lakes/biolake.htm .../feinstruktur/em.htm lakes/lake07.htm

Use vision to find prey Tend to select larger prey

Find prey by vibration or chemical cues

Tend to select smaller prey

Predatory Vertebrates Planktivores


Larval and adult salamanders


Predatory Invertebrates
Notonecta-backswimmer vision/dan/prey.html

Dyticid beetle larva


Chaoborus .../feinstruktur/em.htm

phantom midge

Predatory Invertebrates




Predatory Invertebrates

cladocerans and copepods



Which type of predator will dominate in a particular habitat?

Complex question, depends on abiotic conditions temp, oxygen, water chem competition among predators predators of the predators

Already talked about predation by vertebrates, will focus now on predation by invertebrates

Predatory invertebrates have to balance food acquisition with avoiding predation When planktivorous fish are abundant, predatory invertebrates are often excluded .from the epilimnion

or the entire lake

Most predatory invertebrates that feed in the plankton tend to select prey that are smaller than they are

So they select small species (e.g., Bosmina, Ceriodaphnia, Rotifers)

Or juveniles of larger species (e.g., nauplii, juvenile Daphnia)

Why do predatory invertebrates select smaller prey items?

Gape limitation again...


has swim bladders sit and wait predator

Daphnia is the prey

Encounter rate between predator and prey goes up linearly with Daphnia size



detect prey by their wake.

But handing time goes up exponentially with size

The relationship between encounter rate and strike efficiency suggest that medium-size prey are the optimal diet choice
Encounter rate Strike efficiency Vulnerability

In general... Fish are size-selective and prefer larger prey items. Very young fish will be gape limited, so will avoid big zooplankton. But, most planktivorous fish are not gape-limited so select the largest individuals.

Just like fish, predatory invertebrates will encounter big zooplankton more frequently.

But, many predatory invertebrates cannot handle the largest zooplankton, so select for small or intermediate sized animals

How do predatory invertebrates find their prey? 1) Wakes Different sized animals have different sized wakes

Many predators cue into this movement. They are attracted to small wakes, repelled by larger wakes

How do these predators find their prey? 2) Chemical cues Many copepods are covered with chemosensory pits, can smell their prey

Many examples about how invertebrate predators eat smaller things and therefore influence community structure.

But, there are cases where predatory invertebrates dont follow the general rule...

Bythotrephesexotic to North America (invaded

in mid 1980s), but native to Europe.
Prior to invasion of Lake Michigan, offshore water had:

Daphnia pulicara (large bodied) Daphnia galeata mendotae (slightly smaller than D.p.) Daphnia retrocurva (small)

After Bythotrephes invaded, all three populations collapsed but only D. galeata (the medium sized species) recovered and remained in the plankton. Abundance (#/L)
D. galeata

D. retrocurva D. pulicaria

Could Bythotrephes have done this?

Schulz and Yurista 1999

Offered Daphnia of different sizes to


As with Chaoborus, encounter rate went up with larger species, but Bythotrephes does not show the same decline in capture efficiency.

Bythotrephes has arms.

Adult Bythotrephes prefer large daphniids (D. pulicaria) Juvenile Bythotrephes eat the small daphniids (D. retrocurva)

Why did the medium sized species survive? unknown, probably DVM

Multiple predators

Planktivorous Fish

The presence of more than one predator species can influence the dynamics of both the predators and the prey


Multiple predators
Two ways that the presence of a second predator species can influence the amount of prey the first species can consume
1. Changing the abundance of other predator species When fish eat Chaoborus, there are fewer


2. Changing the behavior of the other predator species (activity levels, habitat use, direct interference, etc.)

Chaoborus avoids the surface waters when

bluegill are present

Alternatively, these complex relationships between predator species can benefit both predator species by allowing them to get more food then they would if alone (facilitation)

e.g., the presence of one predator changes the behavior of the prey, to make it easier for the second predator to capture

How multiple predators influence the prey depends on the nature of the predator-predator interaction
e.g. if fish eat Chaoborus, then Chaoborus is less of a threat to Daphnia

But, if the presence of fish changes the behavior of Daphnia, the Daphnia may experience a higher risk of predation by


J. Forney
Oneida Lake, NY

Perch eat Daphnia, benthic invertebrates, smaller perch

Walleye eat perch

(Yellow perch abundance)

Complex Interactions:

Olson and colleagues, 1995, 1997

Largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) largemouth_black_bass.html

Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus) bluegill.html

Small bluegill (20-75 mm) are restricted by predators (bass) to the protection of the littoral zone vegetation. They feed on benthic invertebrates.

Above 75 mm, the bass are gape limited, so the bluegill can feed in the open water where they have access to more zooplankton.

The larger bluegill can also go back and forth between the open water and littoral zone.

Predatorprey interaction Littoral zone provides a refuge from predation for the small bluegill and gape limitation provides a refuge for large bluegill

But juvenile bass also stay (and feed) in the littoral zone making the bluegill and bass potential competitors

If bluegill are better competitors than bass, then it will take the juvenile bass longer to grow

The longer it takes the bass to grow, the longer it takes the bass to get to a size where they are big enough to eat bluegill

Olson et al. 1995

Pond divided into 8 sections 4 treatments

Target Bass Low Bluegill High Bluegill 50 bluegill + 70 Bass = 120 50 bluegill + 220 Bass = 270 200 bluegill + 70 Bass = 270 800 bluegill + 70 Bass = 870

(120) (270) (270)


Concepts to know
How does predation by invertebrate predators impact the size-structure of zooplankton assemblages? How does this differ from predation by fish?

Why is Bythotrephes not the typical predatory invertebrate? How do multiple predator interactions change the risk experiences by prey?

How do bluegill and bass interact?

Practice question
Double-Crested Cormorant tools/waterfwl/cormornt.htm

Oneida Lake is a large (surface area = 207 km2) lake in upstate New York. Although the lake reaches depths of up to 12m, it does not stratify thermally because it has a 33 km long fetch in the direction of the prevailing winds. The major piscivore in Oneida Lake is the walleye (Stizostedion vitreum) and the major planktivore is yellow perch (Perca flavescens). For the last several years, the shoreline and several of the small islands of Oneida Lake have become increasingly populated by the Double-Crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus). This diving water bird is extremely good at catching fish and preferentially feeds on walleye. Using the reasoning of the Trophic Cascade Theory, predict how algal abundance should respond as the cormorant population increases. Make sure your answer includes an explanation of the mechanisms leading to this predicted response in algal abundance.