Functional feeding traits as predictors of invasive success of alien freshwater fish species using a food-fish model

Leopold A.J. Nagelkerke*, Eline van Onselen, Nils van Kessel, Rob S.E.W. Leuven

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Invasions of Ponto-Caspian fish species into north-western European river basins accelerated since the opening of the Rhine–Main–Danube Canal in 1992. Since 2002, at least five Ponto-Caspian alien fish species have arrived in The Netherlands. Four species belong to the Gobiidae family (Neogobius fluviatilis, Neogobius melanostomus, Ponticola kessleri, and Proterorhinus semilunaris) and one to the Cyprinidae family (Romanogobio belingi). These species are expected to be potentially deleterious for the populations of four native benthic fish species: Gobio gobio (Cyprinidae), Barbatula barbatula (Nemacheilidae), Cottus perifretum, and C. rhenanus (Cottidae). Invasion success may be dependent on competitive trophic interactions with native species, which are enabled and/or constrained by feeding-related morphological traits. Twenty-two functional feeding traits were measured in nine species (in total 90 specimens). These traits were quantitatively linked to the mechanical, chemical and behavioral properties of a range of aquatic resource categories, using a previously developed food-fish model (FFM). The FFM was used to predict the trophic profile (TP) of each fish: the combined capacities to feed on each of the resource types. The most extreme TPs belonged to three alien species, indicating that they were most specialized among the studied species. Of these three, only P. kessleri overlapped with the two native Cottus species, indicating potential trophic competition. N. fluviatilis and R. belingi did not show any overlap, indicating that there is low trophic competition. The two remaining alien goby species (N. melanostomus and P. semilunaris) had average TPs and could be considered generalist feeders. They overlapped with each other and with G. gobio and B. barbatula, indicating potential trophic competition. This study suggests that both generalist and specialist species can be successful invaders. Since the FFM predicts potential interactions between species, it provides a tool to support horizon scanning and rapid risk assessments of alien species.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0197636
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume13
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jun 2018

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  • Press / Media

    When do alien species pose a threat?

    L.A.J. Nagelkerke

    7/06/18

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    Press/Media: Research

    When do alien species pose a threat?

    L.A.J. Nagelkerke

    7/06/18

    1 item of Media coverage

    Press/Media: Research

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