3 years ago

Dietary niche expansion and niche shift in native marble trout (Salmo marmoratus) living in sympatry with introduced rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)


The non‐native rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) has been introduced worldwide for angling purposes and has established self‐reproducing populations in many parts of the world. Introduced rainbow trout often have negative effects on the native salmonid species, ranging from decrease abundance, growth and survival, to their local extinction. Assessing the effects of introduced rainbow trout on the native species is thus crucial to better set up conservation programmes. In this study, we investigated the effects of non‐native rainbow trout on the diet of native marble trout (Salmo marmoratus) living in the Idrijca River (Slovenia). An impassable waterfall separates the stream in two sectors only a few hundred metres apart: a downstream sector (treatment) in which marble trout live in sympatry (MTs) with rainbow trout (RTs) and an upstream sector (control) in which marble trout live in allopatry (MTa). Specifically, we investigated using stable isotopes the effects of rainbow trout on dietary niche, diet composition, body condition, and lipid content of marble trout. We found dietary niche expansion and niche shift in marble trout living in sympatry with rainbow trout. Compared to MTa, MTs had higher piscivory rate and showed higher body condition and prereproduction lipid content. Our results indicate that the presence of rainbow trout did not have negative effects on marble trout diet and condition and that changes in dietary niche of marble trout are likely to be an adaptive response to the presence of rainbow trout, and further research is needed to better understand.

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