Invasive mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki) affect egg-laying and behaviour of Spanish pygmy newts (Triturus pygmaeus)

in Amphibia-Reptilia
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Abstract

Invasive species are one of the main causes of amphibian declines worldwide, often through direct predation. Even species or life stages that may not be prone to predation by invasive animals can be affected through alterations of their reproductive behaviour and/or performance. This aspect is less commonly investigated, and may be important for understanding the full impact of invasive species on local amphibian populations. We used laboratory experiments to measure effects of the invasive Eastern mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki) on gravid pygmy newts (Triturus pygmaeus) from southern Spain. Gravid newts altered their position in the water column by moving from the bottom of the aquaria to the surface when in the presence of free-swimming mosquitofish, presumably to reduce physical contact with them. Newts also detected and consumed less prey in presence of free mosquitofish. Newts exposed to caged or free-swimming mosquitofish laid fewer eggs than newts not exposed to the invasive species, suggesting that chemical or visual cues alone were sufficient to alter the behaviour of gravid newts. Our results suggest that mosquitofish can reduce the reproductive success of native pygmy newts in the wild, highlighting the need for management efforts to mitigate this impact.

Invasive mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki) affect egg-laying and behaviour of Spanish pygmy newts (Triturus pygmaeus)

in Amphibia-Reptilia

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References

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Figures

  • View in gallery

    Proportion (mean ± 1 SE) of gravid pygmy newts (Triturus pygmaeus) observed at different heights (bottom, medium or upper position) in the water column in three experimental treatments, with caged or free mosquitofish and with no fish.

  • View in gallery

    Proportion (mean ± 1 SE) of worms consumed by gravid pygmy newts (Triturus pygmaeus) and mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki) during feeding trials included in three experimental treatments, with caged or free mosquitofish and with no fish.

  • View in gallery

    Time (mean ± 1 SE) invested by gravid pygmy newts (Triturus pygmaeus) in capturing and consuming a worm within five minute trials included in three experimental treatments, with caged or free mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki) and with no fish.

  • View in gallery

    Number (mean ± 1 SE) of wrapped and unwrapped eggs laid by gravid pygmy newts (Triturus pygmaeus) in three experimental treatments, with caged or free mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki) and with no fish.

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