Experimental Analysis of Intra- and Interspecific Competitive Interactions between Cutthroat Trout and Sculpins in Small Streams
Ramirez, B.S.

In the Pacific Northwest ecoregion of North America, sculpins represent a major constituent of freshwater assemblages in coastal rivers. Little is known of their interactions with co-occurring species, such as widely studied salmon and trout (salmonines). In this study, I evaluated inter- and intraspecific interactions involving cottids (Cottus sp.) and coastal cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii clarkii). I used a response surface experimental design to independently evaluate effects of cutthroat trout and sculpin biomass on growth and behavior. There was evidence of both intra- and interspecific interactions between cutthroat trout and sculpins, but the interactions were asymmetrical with biomass of cutthroat trout driving both intra- and interspecific interactions, whereas sculpins had little influence overall. Cutthroat trout biomass was positively related to conspecific aggressive interactions and negatively related to growth. Sculpin exhibited increased use of cover during the day in response to greater biomass of cutthroat trout, but not sculpin biomass. Nocturnal use of cover by sculpins was unaffected by biomass of either species.  This experiment provides insights into the species interactions and the mechanisms that may allow sculpins and salmonines to coexist in nature. As cutthroat trout appear to be superior competitors, coexistence between sculpins and cutthroat trout may depend on some form of refuge.

DISCIPLINE: Fisheries    STUDY: Alsea, Hinkle Creek, Trask    TYPE: Theses    TAGS: sculpins, intraspecific interactions, cottus, Oncorhynchus, coastal cutthroat trout, biomass, Oregon, competition
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