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Diet of largemouth bass, Micropterus salmoides (Centrarchidae) an invasive alien in the lower reaches of an Eastern Cape River, South Africa

Keywords: Piscivory , non-native , gut content analysis , estuarine , marine , freshwater

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Abstract:

Largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) have been introduced to many South African river systems where they become invasive and pose a threat to native biota. The diets of small (32 - 138mm TL) and large (192 - 448mm TL) sized bass were analyzed and compared in a marine fish nursery area in the lower Kowie River on the warm temperate coast of South Africa over a one year period from March 2009 to February 2010. Dietary differences were detected between the two size groups. Amphipod sp. (% Index of Relative Importance (IRI) = 69.2) and dipterans (Insecta) (%IRI = 21.9) dominated gut contents of small bass while larger bass preyed mostly on odonates (Insecta) (%IRI = 16.3) and the brachyuran Potamonautes sidneyi (%IRI = 80.0). Fish prey was of low importance during this study but comparisons with previous work on the lower Kowie River showed that when the river is flowing, young marine fish recruiting into the freshwater from the estuary become important prey items. These data suggest that in the lower Kowie River bass utilise invertebrate prey at low fish prey abundance and opportunistically feed on migrant fish when these are available.

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