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Predation of a cave fish (Poecilia mexicana , Poeciliidae) by a giant water-bug (Belostoma , Belostomatidae) in a Mexican sulphur cave.


Tobler, M; Schlupp, I; Plath, M (2007). Predation of a cave fish (Poecilia mexicana , Poeciliidae) by a giant water-bug (Belostoma , Belostomatidae) in a Mexican sulphur cave. Ecological Entomology, 32(5):492-495.

Abstract

1. Caves are often assumed to be predator-free environments for cave fishes. This has been proposed to be a potential benefit of colonising these otherwise harsh environments. In order to test this hypothesis, the predator – prey interaction of a belostomatid (predator) and a cave fish (prey) occurring in the Cueva del Azufre
(Tabasco, Mexico) was investigated with two separate experiments.
2. In one experiment, individual Belostoma were given a chance to prey on a cave fish, the cave form of the Atlantic molly ( Poecilia mexicana ), to estimate feeding rates and size-specific prey preferences of the predator. In the other experiment, population density of Belostoma was estimated using a mark – recapture analysis in one of the cave chambers.
3. Belostomatids were found to heavily prey on cave mollies and to exhibit a prey preference for large fish. The mark – recapture analysis revealed a high population density of the heteropterans in the cave.
4. The absence of predators in caves is not a general habitat feature for cave fishes. None the less predation regimes differ strikingly between epigean and hypogean habitats. The prey preference of Belostoma indicates that cave-dwelling P. mexicana experience size-specific predation pressure comparable with surface populations, which may have implications for life-history evolution in this cave fish.

1. Caves are often assumed to be predator-free environments for cave fishes. This has been proposed to be a potential benefit of colonising these otherwise harsh environments. In order to test this hypothesis, the predator – prey interaction of a belostomatid (predator) and a cave fish (prey) occurring in the Cueva del Azufre
(Tabasco, Mexico) was investigated with two separate experiments.
2. In one experiment, individual Belostoma were given a chance to prey on a cave fish, the cave form of the Atlantic molly ( Poecilia mexicana ), to estimate feeding rates and size-specific prey preferences of the predator. In the other experiment, population density of Belostoma was estimated using a mark – recapture analysis in one of the cave chambers.
3. Belostomatids were found to heavily prey on cave mollies and to exhibit a prey preference for large fish. The mark – recapture analysis revealed a high population density of the heteropterans in the cave.
4. The absence of predators in caves is not a general habitat feature for cave fishes. None the less predation regimes differ strikingly between epigean and hypogean habitats. The prey preference of Belostoma indicates that cave-dwelling P. mexicana experience size-specific predation pressure comparable with surface populations, which may have implications for life-history evolution in this cave fish.

Citations

25 citations in Web of Science®
27 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Zoology (former)
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Cave ecology, cave fish, predator – prey interactions, prey preferences
Language:English
Date:2007
Deposited On:11 Feb 2008 12:14
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 12:13
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN:0307-6946
Publisher DOI:10.1111/j.1365-2311.2007.00892.x

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