Indexed on: 01 Oct '12Published on: 01 Oct '12Published in: Ecology of Freshwater Fish
Threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) populations that have evolved pelvic girdle reduction are most commonly found in lakes with low dissolved ion concentration, a lack of piscivorous fishes, and abundant macroinvertebrate predators. Researchers have speculated that macroinvertebrates have a propensity to consume prey with pelvic spines. If this is true, perhaps macroinvertebrates use the stickleback's spines to facilitate capture and manipulation. This study tested whether dragonfly naiads differentially prey upon stickleback possessing either a complete or reduced pelvis and documented naiad hunting and capturing behavior. Results from an arena experiment suggest that naiads do not prey more heavily upon individuals with one pelvic phenotype over the other. However, results from trials where the naiads were presented with one stickleback with pelvic spines and another without suggest that naiads prey more heavily upon small stickleback with pelvic spines and large stickleback without pelvic spines and that they adjust their predatory behavior based upon the pelvic phenotype of the prey.