Coexistence of top predators in headwater streams : pathways of intraguild predation between Pacific Giant salamander larvae and cutthroat trout Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/sb397b63k

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  • The coexistence of multiple predators may have important consequences for the structure and function of communities. Interactions between predators may strongly affect their combined direct and indirect effects on prey populations and lower trophic levels. Predators often have size-structured populations, which may result in intraguild predation characterized by complex trophic and behavioral interactions. Coexistence of multiple predators may strongly depend on antipredator defenses of small size classes that reduce their vulnerability to predation. In Pacific Northwest forested ecosystems, Pacific giant salamanders (Dicamptodon tenebrosus) and coastal cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki clarki) are the top predators in many perennial headwater streams. Dicamptodon and cutthroat have size-structured populations with roughly corresponding size classes, and interactions between these species appear consistent with intraguild predation. My research objective was to determine the mechanisms contributing to the coexistence of Dicamptodon larvae with cutthroat trout in headwater streams, and the effects of this coexistence on factors related to Dicamptodon fitness. First, I tested for two general types of antipredator defenses of young-of-year Dicamptodon larvae against trout. Larvae were palatable to trout during initial and repeated offerings, which suggests that they may survive few encounters with trout. However, larvae increased refuge use in response to non-visual, chemical cues from trout, which likely reduces the probability of encounters with trout and contributes to their coexistence. Second, I measured the effects of cutthroat trout on Dicamptodon fitness parameters in a field experiment. Dicamptodon survival, growth, and behavior (activity level) did not differ between trout-present and trout-absent pools, although these results were compromised by unexplained gains or losses of larvae from most pools. Antipredator behaviors may promote coexistence of Dicamptodon and cutthroat trout, and may contribute to a complex series of behavioral and trophic interactions affecting lower trophic levels within headwater stream communities.
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